(Trinidad Guardian) Gloria Nicome, who is living with an enlarged tumour growing on her back, buttocks, hips and legs that weighs almost 200 pounds, has been given notice by her landlord to vacate her Malabar apartment.
While thousands of citizens were busy preparing sumptuous meals and putting the final touches to their homes yesterday to celebrate Christmas today, Nicome, 52, was in tears as she made a desperate plea to the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) to make an exception and provide her with a roof over her head.
“I don’t have nowhere to go and no one to turn to… is I and I alone. I am in no condition to find an apartment because of this overgrown tumour. I could barely move around far less go hunting for an apartment. Please! HDC, help me!… I need a home if not for Christmas at least the New Year. This is the worst Christmas I ever experienced,” Nicome said, bursting into tears.
In 2008, Nicome, a mother of one, applied to the HDC for a home but was unsuccessful.
Weighing a mere 110 pounds back then, Nicome recalled being a free-spirited and independent person earning her own money as a production supervisor at a meat shop. But all that changed in 2010 when she took a nasty tumble and landed on her buttocks.
Within weeks of the fall, Nicome noticed a lump growing at a fast pace on her rear. She was later diagnosed with plexiform neurofibroma, which doctors at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital tried to remove.
“During the surgery, I started to bleed profusely and the operation had to be called off,” she recalled.
Seven years later, Nicome, who tips the scale at 310 pounds, has become a prisoner inside her home, as the tumour has been growing by leaps and bounds.
While she admitted she has been making progress at the San Fernando Hospital to have the tumour removed, she is now faced with a bigger obstacle, finding a place to live.
Last Friday, Nicome’s landlady, who lives in the United States, informed her that she needed her apartment.
The landlord is expected to come to Trinidad in early January.
“The landlady did not give me a date to move but she said she wants the apartment at the soonest. This news have me in a real mess for Christmas. I am so stressed out. I can’t sleep or eat. I am feeling hopeless and helpless,” Nicome said.
Fresh tears rolled down Nicome’s cheeks when she admitted to asking God to end her life and suffering.
“I just can’t take the stress no more… it is too much. Is better God put an end to my suffering and take me. I feel that would be better. But people does say don’t give up, God just testing my faith. But how much one person could endure?”
Nicome said her son is also unable to accommodate her at his apartment.
Of the $1,150 monthly public assistance she collects from the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, Nicome paid $1,000 in rent.
She survives mostly on the generosity of the public.
“Even though I am living on handouts I am willing to pay HDC $1,000 in rent every month. I just want a place to live. I don’t want to end up on the streets and I feel that is where I would be going pretty soon because my back is against the wall,” Nicome said.
HDC communications manager Dike Noel yesterday promised to look into Nicome’s matter, saying emergency housing “is not automatic. It is normally considered on a case by case basis.”
However, Noel said if Nicome is approved for emergency housing, the HDC will have to provide her with a ground floor unit which will have to be retrofitted to suit her daily needs given her health condition.
“Seeing that Ms Nicome cannot come to the HDC, we would have to visit her and make an assessment. You have to remember when she applied to us she did not have this health problem, which would now have to be documented by us. All those things would have to be considered when HDC’s managing director Brent Lyons is briefed on her case,” Noel said.