Medical tests, biopsies and surgical procedures have taken over her life since 2009. Her numerous medical appointments have meant travelling between Mali’s capital city and her home region, at a time when the latter was descending into chaos. But it was several years before Hawa was finally diagnosed with cancer. She is now receiving palliative care and support from Médecins Sans Frontières/ Doctors Without Borders (MSF) teams in Bamako as part of a new project set up in partnership with Mali’s Ministry of Health.
“I spent so much time hanging around on benches in clinics and hospitals being told the tests were negative and there was nothing wrong that, by the time I was finally told it was a tumour, I was totally drained,” she says.