It was in early 2012 when Malaya Relacion started experiencing painful and excessive mouth sores, frequent fevers, weight loss, and non-stop cough. As she couldn’t bear anymore the ordeal she was experiencing back then, she decided to undergo a series of consultations and diagnostic tests in a private health facility in Davao.

Right then, she was immediately requested to be admitted in the hospital even if her real diagnosis was not disclosed to her yet. One day after, she noticed that her attending nurses started wearing face masks and PPEs whenever they visited her. There was also a strict instruction given that only one person could enter her room.

Confused of what’s going on, she decided to go out of her private room and got surprised after seeing a sign that says “NOTICE: PROTECTIVE CLOTHING REQUIRED IN THIS AREA AND NO VISITORS ALLOWED.”

Despite this, Malaya remained calm and patiently waited for her attending physician so that she could personally ask her doctor about her real condition. After a thorough explanation, she found out that she was positive of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB), a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs. Malaya got confused after knowing her real diagnosis and started thinking where she was exposed to get infected of such disease. She initially thought that she acquired it in her workplace as she was working as an HR assistant in an NGO and had to do various field works.

Her physician immediately prescribed anti-TB medications for the next six months and advised her to undergo proper diet and regular exercise. She got enrolled in the hospital’s TB DOTS and received free medicines and counseling sessions. According to Malaya, these group counselling discussions helped her a lot to cope with her condition.

As a mother of two, she was afraid that she would infect her young children, so she religiously complied with her medicine schedule. Fortunately, after a few months of taking anti-TB medicines, she underwent another TB test and the results came out negative. This news relieved her as she could freely hug her family members again without worries.

“Like many persons with TB, I had to conquer my fears. I was at first scared to let people know about my story. But being scared means being powerless. So I had to take control of my own life. Today, I am here to let people know what it really means to be TB-free,” Malaya said.

Now that she’s finally TB free, this 37-year old mom is advocating to strengthen mechanisms to track TB-infected persons and for them to have access to free and quality health care and medicines. She’s also aiming to provide psychosocial support among TB-affected individuals in the workplace.

Aside from these advocacies, she would also like to address common myths and misconceptions about TB such as isolating TB-infected persons from their families and separating their personal belongings such as kitchen utensils.

Asked about the message she wants to give to other TB patients during this COVID-19 pandemic, she said that it’s important to continue building strong TB-free families and workplaces to lessen the distress brought by the pandemic.

Asked about the message she wants to give to other TB patients during this COVID-19 pandemic, she said that it’s important to continue building strong TB-free families and workplaces to lessen the distress brought by the pandemic.

 

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