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Helper may need surgery and extended hospital stay

  1. #1
    bendou is offline Registered User
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    Helper may need surgery and extended hospital stay

    My helper just informed me that she may have breast cancer. She went for a biopsy a couple of weeks ago and is going for a mammograph today. She doesn't yet know the results of the biopsy. The doctor told her that if the lumps in her breast are benign, he could have them removed and she'd only need to stay in the hospital for about 3 days. If they are malignant, i.e., if she has breast cancer, then she'd have to have the whole breast removed and she may need to be hospitalized for six months.

    My husband and I both work full time and I have been heavily reliant on our helper to take care my children and other household matters. I feel sad for her--she's a great person and I feel life shouldn't treat her this way. The diagnosis is not out yet so there's still a chance her case is benign. But in case the worst is true, I have the following questions:

    1. She said if she needs major surgery, she does not want to do it in Hong Kong. I think she prefers to go back to the Philipines for the surgery and recovery. I'm supportive of it as it'd be hard for her to rest with small children running around our home and demanding her attention all the time. Does anyone know how much it would cost if she were to have the surgery and hospital stay in Hong Kong? And how much it would cost approximately if she were to have the surgery in the Philipines?

    2. If she were to have a whole breast removed (I understand that it involves a lot of muscles, etc.), would it still be possible for her to take care of small children, e.g., carry them and run after them? I wanted to tell her that she's welcome back after she recovers, but I don't want to make her feel that she's obligated to or that we are asking her to take on responsiblities that are not possible/appropriate for her anymore.

    3. The six-month hospital stay that her doctor said she would need after surgery struck me as odd. I'm not sure if she misunderstood him. I understand she may need chemotheraphy and whatnot after the surgery, but what would be the purpose of staying in the hospital for six months? Does anyone know if this is right?

    Many thanks in advance for your responses.

  2. #2
    howardcoombs is offline Registered User
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    We recently (in the past 2 years) went thru the same issue where our helper had cancer.
    1) In Hong Kong, the cost is minimal; the whole episode including chemo treatments cost less than $1000. In PPines, it would cost a huge amount of money. I dont understand why she would want to go back to PPines; who is going to pay for the bills in PPines?

    2) The answer would depend on recovery time. In our case, our helper could not do any lifting for about 1 year. I did all the shopping and carrying while she recovered.

    3) That doesnt sound right. Chemo can take 6-12 months but hospital stay should be short (1-2 weeks).

    We have/had 2 helpers so the workload was shared between the other helper and the rest of the family. Be prepared that your helper wont be able to do very much during recovery and chemo time.

    HC

  3. #3
    bendou is offline Registered User
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    howardcoombs,

    Thanks so much for your reply!

    Probably she said she wanted to leave if she needed major surgery because she did not want to impose on us. I didn't quite understand when she spoke with me, otherwise I would have told her not to worry and we'll take care of her. We have two helpers too so hopefully things should work out.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    howardcoombs is offline Registered User
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    The medical system in the PPines (unless you are one of the privileged) is woefully inadequate; As she is a helper, I'm making the assumption that she has very limited means. Sending her to PPines IMO would jepordize her recovery and survival as hospitals are expensive, drugs even more so. In our case, we did not consider this at all; I personally viewed that option as a non-option.

    She is fully eligible for Govt hospitals here and these hospitals are good with decent doctors and nurses. Her best choice (not knowing other details) would be to stay here and get treated here.

    With your support, she will be back to normal in short amount of time; assuming things have not spread far.

    HC

  5. #5
    bendou is offline Registered User
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    Thanks again. Now that I understand what the Philippines is like, I certainly would not let her go back. I think she mentioned going back because she did not want to impose on us; once I make it clear to her that we want her to stay with us and we'll take care of her, most likely she would not insist.

  6. #6
    bendou is offline Registered User
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    Hi howardcoombs,

    My helper has been diagnosed with breast cancer and will have surgery in a few days. She may have chemotherapy after surgery. My question is, would she be able to do some light housework (e.g., cooking, ironing) or nothing at all? I want to clearly divide the housework between my two helpers, but want to make sure I understand what is possible for the sick helper. She is the type that's eager to take on work, but I want to make sure that she's not taking on anything that she can't handle. Thanks in advance.

  7. #7
    babydoll is offline Registered User
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    I would also like ask whether the public health care system here in HK cover the DH costs of outpatient visists, hospitalisation and surgery. My helper is in the same situation as the other posters above and we have also private insurance for her when we employed her over 2 years ago.

  8. #8
    howardcoombs is offline Registered User
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    If she is here legally (proper DH visa), then the DH is fully eligible for public cover.

    HC

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