One of the patients of the 3rd Surgical Mission shows to doctors a big swell on his right side. The operation was successful through the help of doctors. (Photo credit: CBNC)

For almost five years, 53-years old Gemma Acaban of Rizal municipality endured suffering from a swelling of the neck resulting from enlargement of her thyroid gland.

Goiter made it painful for her to swallow even a small piece of food. Her doctor in Puerto Princesa City advised her to undergo an operation but because she cannot afford its cost, Gemma decided not to have it and just endured the neck pain.

Sometimes, she would have bouts of low-grade fever but she will just cope with it, her husband Maximo said.

Photo Credit: CBNC

“Limang taon niya nang iniinda ang sakit na ‘yan. Hirap talaga kasi pati sa paglunok ng pagkain sumasakit kaya hindi ko na siya pinapatrabaho  ng mabigat,” Maximo narrated to Palawan News.

Marilyn Mapusao, 41, a resident of  Barangay Aramaywan, Narra, has been suffering from anal cyst for 11 years. It is a painful condition for her because pus collects near her anus due to the infection of small anal glands.

She said having the cyst has made her life uncomfortable and renders her useless to work often which results in her family suffering too.

Marilyn and Gemma are only two of the 270 patients whose long sufferings have been finally healed because of the free surgical mission served to them on February 14-17 by the  Coral Bay Nickel Corporation (CBNC) and Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corporation (RTNMC) in cooperation with Hope for the World Foundation and the Manila Adventist Hospital (MAH).

Photo Credit: CBNC

“Buong puso kaming nagpapasalamat sa CBNC at RTNMC dahil ngayon ay na-operahan na ang asawa ko at wala kaming ginastos. Kaya malaking tulong po ito talaga sa aming pamilya,” Gemma’s husband Maximo said.

He said after Gemma has fully recovered from her major operation, she can already help him work for their family.

Marilyn is also thankful to the surgical mission for giving her a new opportunity in life away from having an anal cyst.

“Maraming salamat po sa mga doktor at staff lalo na sa CBNC at RTNMC para ma-operahan ako ng libre. Isang malaking tulong ito dahil kung kami lang sa pamilya, walang-wala kaming perang panggastos sa pampa-opera,” Marilyn said.

The surgical mission benefited 113 patients who underwent major operations for their goiter, hernia problems, mass, and eye, ear, nose, and throat (EENT) conditions and 182 who underwent minor operations for cysts and lumps.

As of the initial count, ophthalmology operations were also conducted on 29 patients.

The surgical mission of this expanse started in 1991 in the communities of Barangay Rio Tuba and some parts of Bataraza.

The team grew larger because of “word of mouth”, hence, in 2017, CBNC and RTNMC expanded the coverage of the mission in terms of beneficiaries. This time from different parts of Palawan.

The two companies provide the funds for the conduct of the mission every year.

Dr. Bimbo Almonte,  medical director of Rio Tuba Nickel Foundation, Inc. (RTNFI) where the mission was held, said it has already been a 30-year tradition to give back to the community.

“It already became a tradition with the generosity of RTNMC hanggang dumating din ang isang kompanya na busilak din ang puso sa pagtulong, ang CBNC. Kaya mas lalong tumatag ng husto ang ganitong pagbibigay serbisyo sa mga Palawenyo,” Dr. Almonte said.

Earlier, the CBNC community relations staff and the doctors traveled town-to-town in southern Palawan to conduct on-site screening and to inform residents about the surgical mission.

Much-need assistance was provided by CBNC to patients so they could come and avail the surgical mission.

“This is the first time that we did the on-site screening. Kasi last time we’re just waiting for them to come here. And the fact na gagastos pa sila ng pamasahe tapos malalaman na ‘di naman sila pwede. That’s why the company conducted the on-site screening, so kami na ang pumunta,” said Dr. Jay Ang, the in-house surgeon of RTNFI hospital.