Cary still smokes a cigarette once in a while. She has tried to quit but, “it is a very powerful vice,” she says.
She says, she started smoking when she was a girl, she was ten or eleven years old, she does not remember very well. “It’s just that she lived in the country, and that was the case,” she murmurs.
She is a woman who is 69 years old, but anyone would say she has more time to live.
The wit in her appearance is accentuated by the lack of joy, the gray veil that blurs her eyes, the dark rings under her eyes, apparently tired…. It is that Cary fights against one of the diseases that most lives on the planet: lung cancer.
Hers is a non-small cell carcinoma and was diagnosed in June 2017.
Do you smoke? How much? They were the first questions of the doctors at the Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital in Havana. In those days the Mayabeque Oncohematology Room has just been created, but his family did not know it.
I ask the same questions. “I smoked two boxes a day,” she replies. But I guess it could have been much more when she recognizes, “that they say that the smoker prefers to spend the money on cigarettes before buying food, it’s true, it happened to me”.
In the last two years the body of Cary has received an invasion of chemotherapy, radiation and finally, since March 8 began therapy with the CIMAvax-EGF®, the vaccine against lung cancer.
When she recounts all that history, she remembers others like her, who was falling by the wayside, but she emphasizes the doctors who have assisted her, in their professionalism and tenderness. At that time I saw water in her small sad eyes.
Then we return to the matter of the cigar, and confess that she still smokes the odd cigar every day, despite the reprimands of the granddaughter and her daughter.
She knows that it is bad for her lungs and for her stubborn body that remains firm in the fight against bad cells. But I guess that the cigar is its tyrant, its master, and is unable to depart from it completely.
Who can know what will happen tomorrow, but Caridad Álvarez Díaz has hope, even if she does not say it, even if she does not know it.
And that woman detests the hospital bed and treasures the most special illusion for her granddaughter with the fifteen years knocking at the door.
Neither does she want to be a burden, nor become useless, nor that is why she insists on directing housework, making food, maintaining order. After all, the family needs her, and maybe that’s why hopes are alive in her heart.
Translated by Ada Iris Guerrero