Mother-of-two Larisa Pisareva was shocked to learn she had TB, a potentially fatal disease. The illness demanded months of treatment – including a long separation from her daughters.
But support from the British Red Cross got her through an incredibly tough time.
Larisa’s father-in-law had TB, but she only found this out after his death. The illness is spread in coughs and sneezes, so it is often passed between people who live with each other.
When the rest of the family were tested, Larisa learned she had TB too. She says: “I was in shock. Everything turned upside down.”
Getting treatment meant she had to spend two months in hospital. She was totally cut off from her daughters, who are aged five and 15. She says: “It was very tough. The girls are much happier now I can be with them.”
But even after leaving hospital Larisa’s treatment wasn’t over – she still needed to take a long course of medication to get rid of the illness. During this period, Larisa got months of important advice, motivation and help from the Red Crescent Society of Turkmenistan.
Support "makes a big difference"
This ranged from information about how Larisa could protect her family from the illness, to free food parcels that kept her strength up as she took the powerful TB medication. The treatment can cause side-effects such as sickness and tiredness – without a good diet, taking the pills becomes extremely difficult.
The support gave Larisa a much-needed boost and, crucially, helped her complete her treatment. Ending the process half-way through might have caused the illness to change into a new, more serious form – one that was even harder to treat.
She says: “It makes a big difference if someone supports you, and tells you that you will recover.”
Larisa has special praise for her Red Crescent nurse, who is also called Larisa. The ex-patient says: “My nurse was so kind. There is a stigma when you have this disease. People will turn their back on you. But it was different with Larisa.” .
- In 2015, the Red Crescent is aiming to help 370 people complete their TB treatment – and 26,200 members of the public learn the facts about the illness. Read more about the programme, which is supported by the British Red Cross.