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Searching for answers

Marilyn, Angel’s mother, through the curtains in her house in San Cristóbal, Venezuela, close to the Colombian border. (Photo: Fabiola Ferrero)

A mother seeks cancer treatment for her son during Venezuela’s health crisis

Angel, 5, was diagnosed with a stage 4 neuroblastoma in September 2015. Every two weeks since then, he and his mother, Marilyn, have made the 14-hour bus trip from their hometown of San Cristóbal, near the Colombian border, to the capital of Caracas, where he receives chemotherapy. The Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation estimates that the country is lacking roughly 80 percent of basic medical supplies, so Marilyn must rely on the help of family, friends, and nongovernmental organizations to find medicine for her son. When she does, she stores as much as she can in a box.

“If another mom needs one, I give it to her,” she says. “We’re here to help each other through this.”

Since last year, Marilyn and Angel have been waiting for a reagent (Iodine-131) that is not available in Venezuela but is necessary for the tests Angel needs to have before his second surgery. In the meantime, Marilyn continues traveling, calling friends, and borrowing rooms in Caracas, determined to make sure her son survives cancer in a country wracked by a health crisis.

Text and photography by Fabiola Ferrero

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