18:30, October 24, 2014
“I don’t place any hope on the government”
This is the story of Mayis Geghamyan, a 19 year-old whose life was irrevocably changed on July 15, 2013 while serving as a conscript soldier in Artsakh.
It was on that date, just four days into his military service that Mayis took on a fall during a training exercise and damaged his right knee.
Today, he’s a patient at the Nayri Medical Center in Yerevan receiving chemotherapy for osteosarcoma which has metastasized into his lungs. His right leg has since been amputated.
On the day I went to visit him in hospital, Mayis was feeling poorly but wanted to talk.
“I joined the army happily. I figured my sister, brother and relatives would sleep peacefully. But my present condition…perhaps you can’t grasp what it means,” Mayis said, showing me the amputated leg. “When I go out like this, people stare at me.”
On the day of the fateful accident, Mayis was serving at a base in Martouni. He was taken to the base medical unit and told that if the staff registered him it would reflect poorly on the base. Not wishing to cause trouble, the young soldier told the staff not to write him up, but to at least examine his knee.
The wound seemed to have gotten better and Mayis continued to serve. Fifteen days later, he was transferred to Fizouli and he experienced abdominal pain. A few days later Mayis was taken to the Martouni Military Hospital and had his appendix removed.
“The doctor told me to get up and walk. But the knee hurt and was swollen. I asked the doctor to take a look. He told me the x-ray technician wasn’t around. They placed an antibiotic compress on the knee instead,” Mayis told me.
The knee pain got progressively worse, but Mayis was never examined. The army sent him home to be cared for by the family. Gayaneh, his mother, seeing her son was limping, took him to the Mouratsan Military Hospital.
The doctor who saw Mayis thought the young man was trying to avoid being sent back to the army and was exaggerating the leg pain as an excuse.
The Mouratsan hospital staff couldn’t figure out what was causing the pain. Neither did the staff at Kanaz military Hospital. Mayis was sent to the Fanarjian Center of Rentgenology and Oncology in Yerevan where the knee was biopsied and a diagnosis of osteosarcoma given. Mayis received one round of chemotherapy.
He was later examined at the Kanayan Medical Center and told that the original diagnosis was incorrect, and that he was suffering from osteoma – a benign tumor when a new piece of bone grows on another piece.
Buoyed by this new diagnosis, the family rejected further chemotherapy for Mayis.
But the swelling of the knee got worse this May. An MRT was taken of the leg and the original diagnosis was reaffirmed.
The family petitioned the Ministry of defense to have Mayis sent abroad for treatment. Even though the ministry had classified Mayis as a soldier with a second class disability, the family was told that there was no official protocol for organizing such treatment.
Upon receiving this rejection, the family went back to the Fanarjian Center. Given that the cancer had spread to his lungs, they amputated his right leg from just above the knee. Mayis must now travel to Germany or Petersburg (Russia) for further vital treatment.
But the family doesn’t have the financial means to send Mayis for treatment abroad. His father is disabled and his mother doesn’t work. His sister had decided to leave college and look for a job.
“I don’t place any hope on the government. The man now seating in the parliament could resolve my problem with a wave of his hand,” Mayis told me.
Mayis Geghamyan is now pinning his hopes on the kindness and goodwill of strangers - individuals and organizations alike – to come to his rescue.
The following accounts at VTB-Armenia have been opened for those who wish to make donations:
Phone number of Mayis Geghamyan's mother: +374 93 81 88 04 (Gayane), father: +374 98 65 01 10 (Petros)
Video by Ani Hovhannisyan