Mother sees working with TB patients a calling

Marietta Barbacena gives a big smile seeing us enter the room. She has been expecting us. It is almost an hour before 5pm; the office day is near to its end. The health center staff, who have been attending to sick patients since morning, are spending a relaxing afternoon celebrating two colleague’s birthdays with cakes and ice creams.

Mayeth, as people call her, ushers us to her office. In a corner of a room are posted information on “urinalysis” “fecalysis” “leprosy” “malaria” “filariasis”. Beneath these words is a microscope. “That’s what medical technologists do, examine human blood, saliva, or urine under a microscope and tell our findings to a doctor.”

Mayeth has been a registered medical technologist in the rural health center in a town in Camarines Sur for 28 years. “When I was young, I also thought of working abroad as a caregiver. But it didn’t push through due to some unavoidable circumstances. Looking back, I knew that is not God’s plan for me. He wanted me to serve the people here.”

Becoming a TB coordinator

Around 2014, Mayeth was assigned to become her municipality’s TB coordinator. She is happy to take on additional tasks that include awareness raising and guidance to TB patients. For over four years, Mayeth has no qualms helping TB patients. Tuberculosis (TB) is caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. “If you have enough knowledge about TB, you’ll not worry dealing with TB patients.”

Over the years, she saw increase an in number of TB patients. “This is somehow good news because it means that people are aware on what they are supposed to do. They come here for consultation and cure. The TB Task Force is a big part of this because they help us increase people’s awareness and break the stigma. People know that TB can be cured if diagnosed immediately. But, of course, the number of TB patients is not something to celebrate. I am just happy that people are not anymore shy nor ignorant about TB like they used to.”

World Vision established and trained individuals in the community to form TB Task Forces whose main task is to refer possible TB patients and ensure that the latter religiously take their medicines.

A mother, too

Mayeth is a mother to four daughters, none of which follow her in the medical profession. “Maybe because they have weak stomach,” she jests. One of her children is an Information Technology graduate, two are taking Architecture and Civil Engineering, and her youngest is still studying.

After 5pm, Mayeth becomes just like any other mother: she goes to the market, buy and cook food. “As much as I can, I don’t stay late, go home at 5pm, and never bring home work” she says. “But not all the time. I violate it sometimes.” Mayeth admits, laughing. As the lone medical technologist in a municipality with 38 barangays, Mayeth sometimes worked overtime and took home reports needed to submit. On Saturdays, she does the laundry and on Sundays, her family goes to church. Mayeth sees to it that they spend quality time with one another. One of their bonding moment is to practice a song at home. Mayeth, aside from being a medical technologist, knows how to play a guitar.

“Juggling between my job as a MedTech and a mother is difficult. I am sure most mothers can relate to this. But I see my work as God’s calling. To serve the people is to serve God. If you have this in your heart, everything becomes lighter. And He blessed me with supportive children and husband in return.”

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