Nadia Tymoshchuk is eagerly awaiting the end of her cancer treatment so she can go home to her pet turtle and see her children.
“I miss them so much. I used to get very upset because they were so noisy and I couldn’t stand the noise,” the 14-year-old girl told Al Jazeera in the basement of Children’s Hospital 7 in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
Nadia has had glioma, a rare malignant brain cancer, since 2019. Recently, the tumors have metastasized and they have begun to press on her kidneys. Nadia was hospitalized for kidney treatment on February 9 and is now stuck in the hospital basement, the safest place to avoid missiles after Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine.
The girl’s mother, Maryna, said they spent “eight or nine days” in a small room lit by flickering lamps with dozens of other patients. The entrance to the hospital in central Kiev is guarded by a guard with a shotgun.
“We’re sick and tired of being here,” said Maryna, sitting on a bed with three mattresses and a blanket with butterflies on it.
Every day in the hospital basement is a nightmare as the patients have to live without sunlight and suffer from pain. “She was in a lot of pain, she lay curled up almost all day,” Maryna said of her daughter, Nadia.
And each new day for them became bleak with news of the war situation on the ground. Kiev’s suburbs are under attack, including Nadia’s family neighborhood, located near the Akademgorodok metro station in the west of the capital.
Nadia’s home is located not far from the towns of Irpin and Bucha, where fighting has been intense for days. The flash attack plan of the Russian forces was unsuccessful and now they continue to be thwarted at the gates of Kiev. Even so, the civilians trapped inside the city like Nadia couldn’t feel reassured.
“Even at home, I can’t calm down,” Nadia said.
Meanwhile, doctors in Kiev are very worried about Nadia’s progress because no hospital in Ukraine can give her chemotherapy right now. “The doctors said ‘go abroad, nobody in Ukraine can help you,'” Nadia said.
A hospital in Italy has agreed to accept Nadia. But the family’s plan to take a train to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, to then continue on to Italy, was postponed due to the overwhelming number of people evacuating from Irpin, clogging most of it. trains run west over the weekend.
When the war broke out, Children’s Hospital 7 was treating about two dozen children. Now, there are only 5 children left and some have nowhere to go.
Kira Rihtik, 10, arrived at the hospital on February 21 with severe pneumonia, three days before Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine.
To the family, their eight-story apartment building in the Borshchahivka district, west of Kiev, is like a bomb magnet. “The explosions were so powerful that the whole house shook,” said Mary, Kira’s mother.
Her daughter’s pneumonia worsened after three nights they had to avoid bombs in a freezing underground parking lot with neighbors. “We had to leave the parking lot to find a place to warm my daughter,” Mary said.
Borshchahivka is experiencing food shortages, but many elderly people have been provided by volunteers, she said.
After three hellish days, Children’s Hospital 7 was like heaven for Kira and her daughter. “I have everything I need,” she said.
But when the treatment is over, Kira and Mary will have to return to Borshchahivka.
“We were so scared to leave Kiev, there was nowhere to stay in Lviv,” said Mary, referring to the city in western Ukraine that is the gateway to Poland for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian migrants. “We didn’t know where to go.”
Vu Hoang (According to Al Jazeera)