Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 4th 2013 Contents A5
August 4, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
It was one of the saddest stories
I ve ever heard, a mother and
daughter battling cancer at the
Teresa Espinoza, 53, was diagnosed
11 years ago with endometrial cancer
which then progressed to colon can-
cer.Last year, her second daughter,
Kaysher 30, was diagnosed with
stage four colon cancer.
This is one of life s many chal-
lenges that most of us wish we didn t
have to endure but the Espinoza
family lives it each day.
Lauman, 63, the father, was diag-
nosed with prostate cancer in 2011
and is now "cancer free."
Three of Teresa s brothers and one
of her nephews died from cancer;
liver, bone, prostate and colon can-
cers. Her father died from prostate
Her daughter-in-law s grandfather
suffers with throat cancer and a sis-
ter-in-law died from ovarian can-
cer.The Espinoza family likened them-
selves to "energiser bunnies" before
they were afflicted with ill health.
Church and charity were what they
lived for. Preparing hot meals for the
less fortunate, helping needy children
and serving in their church con-
sumed their time.
Teresa said, "We were going and
going and going and then it hit, you
They ve faced bitter moments over
the years during sickness, but in the
midst of all their pain and suffering
they held together as a family with
God as their guide. They are
"Every day you go with God
knows." Teresa and Kaysher said
those words at the same time.
They have no fingerprints or foot-
prints. Their hands and feet have no
grip. Kaysher, frustrated at times
with the unavailability of medication
and faulty machines at the hospital
remains mentally strong. Like her
mother, she thinks of other people s
They spoke with the Sunday
Guardian on Thursday at their
Leemong Road, Tabaquite, home.
Sapphyire, Kaysher s worry
Her daughter turns two next
month. Sapphyire is Kaysher s
biggest worry now, not the cancer
that has spread to close to 50 per
cent of her liver.
She was diagnosed last October.
Earlier that year she felt an unusual
sense of fatigue. She had recently
given birth, had to care for Sapphyire,
was teaching and drove long dis-
Kaysher, a graduate of the Uni-
versity of the West Indies, was a
teacher for six years at the Pleas-
antville Secondary School up until
Her mother s diagnosis did not
depress her. Kaysher, the second of
three, remained strong.
On reflection, Kaysher said,
"Colon cancer is like a silent killer,
you don t know until it is too late.
Don t listen to some of the infor-
mation being put out there because
it is misleading."
Lifting her arms, walking and
doing simple tasks were exhausting.
She had decided to visit her moth-
er s workplace at the San Fernando
City Corporation one day last year.
She tried to walk up Penitence Street
but was too tired. She felt faintish.
She knew then that her body was
sending a message.
How she found out
In September, Kaysher visited a
doctor who gave her iron tablets.
But her condition had not improved
after a month. Another doctor said
her blood count was 3.9. She had
to be warded immediately. She spent
four days at Gulf View Medical. It
was an ultrasound that showed
lesions on her liver.
She did an endoscopy, a
colonoscopy and several tests. She
was back and forth. She also needed
a blood transfusion.
"I have stage four cancer. When
you reach stage four it simply means
that the cancer has spread from one
organ to another.
"It has spread to 50 per cent of
my liver. I need to do a PET scan
but that isn t available here."
A PET scan is positron emission
tomography which uses radiation,
or nuclear medicine imaging to pro-
duce three-dimensional, colour
images of the functional processes
within the human body.
Kaysher took chemotherapy and
has since been receiving palliative
care but she certainly isn t waiting
to die. At least that s what she said.
Her primary concern is her
She said, "She was all I thought
about...what will become of her, who
will raise her, where she will live and
all of that."
Kaysher s supposed to be taking
three forms of medications but said
they are never available at the same
"People at the ground level are
suffering really bad in this country s
healthcare system," she said.
Always look on the bright side
But despite her many challenges,
her spirits continue to remain high.
"You always have to look on the
bright side of everything.
"I m getting to see my daughter
grow. Before I was always in school
and she would be with strangers, so
I m happy about that now," she said.
Kaysher said many people thought
she would have been dead by now;
that bothered her a bit.
She said people were always quick
to jump to conclusions, but she
believed that life should run its
"People want you to lie down and
stare at four walls and wait for the
"But that was not me, I was on
my own beat trying to do things like
"And according to my priest, just
ignore stupid people."
Some of the things she has to
avoid are red meat, fibre, alcohol,
milk and sugar.
Her dream is to travel the world
and have her own home.
Teresa: It's been a
long, hard journey
Teresa and her family opened their
home to priests on a weekend. They
were known for doing "meals on
wheels," organising church activities
and singing in the choir.
She and Lauman, a former chief
executive officer of the Penal/Debe
Regional Corporation also served as
administrators of the parish.
Teresa said, "It s been a long, hard
journey being sick."
Finding strength with God is her
Her battle with cancer for 11 years
has been trying.
"It came as a total shock. I was
going mad. I was always so active.
We have always had a hectic life."
She stills works as a receptionist
at the city corporation.
In 2002, she had a leakage of
blood. After several tests she was
diagnosed with endometrial cancer
and later on colon cancer. Teresa
also had a hysterectomy.
Her life changed dramatically. Her
toenails fell out, her feet were black,
she lost her grip, she has constant
diarrhea and she doesn t see well
despite having laser surgery. She is
She said, "I am now five years
from chemo, but I always think of
other people s suffering."
But her world caved in when
Kaysher was diagnosed.
"What are you to do when you
hear your daughter has stage four
cancer?" she asked.
• Do a colonoscopy
• Check diet
• Do routine tests
• Note bleeding, constipation,
No medication faulty machines in hospital but
People at the
really bad in
Cancer patient Kaysher Espinoza, left, with her daughter Sapphyire, and mother, Teresa, who also has cancer, at
their home in Leemong Road, Tabaquite, on Thursday. PHOTO: RHONDA RAMBALLY
look on the
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