Gregoria, a wife and mother of five, lives in a rural community near the town of Punata, an hour east of Cochabamba. At the age of fifty-nine, Gregoria began to experience aches, pains, and digestive issues that led to unexpected weight loss. Concerned by her worsening condition, she and her husband, a farmer, made the journey to Cochabamba to seek medical attention. They received devastating news: Gregoria had pancreatic cancer. Gregoria speaks only Quechua, so she relied on her husband to communicate with the doctors as they explained the seriousness of the operation she needed, made possible by assistance from Solidarity Bridge.
Gregoria’s husband was understandably anxious about the intensive surgery ahead, but took comfort when Dr. Bilimoria reassured him, “We will treat your wife as if she were our own family member.” During the five-hour operation, Dr. Bilimoria and Bolivian partner Dr. Vania Lozada were relieved to find that the cancer had not spread. They were able to successfully perform a Whipple procedure, which involves removal of the tumor and subsequent diversion and reconstruction of a large portion of the digestive system.
Gregoria and her family were immensely relieved and grateful to learn that the outcome of the surgery was the best they had hoped for, and a full recovery was expected. Gregoria spent ten days in El Gastro Hospital before returning to her modest brick and adobe home. Her health restored, she is able to resume her household duties, care for her children, and once again greet her husband and son with a warm meal after a hard day’s work in the fields.