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KEVON [email protected]

After struggling through hardship as a child, Krissa Bissoon was finally seeing the sunlight through the storm when she landed a job at a successful construction firm in Nassau, Bahamas. That was in February.

However, fate dealt a cruel blow to the Arima mother, who is now battling cervical cancer. She now cannot get back home for continuing treatment as T&T’s borders remain closed. Getting out of the Bahamas before the borders were first closed on March 30 was near impossible, as it was a mere 24 hours after she awoke from surgery at the Doctor’s Hospital in Nassau.She was dealt another blow on Sunday when Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the borders would remain closed until at least May 15 depending on the findings of increased COVID-19 surveillance.“I am 34 years old, nobody expects that a little pain in your stomach would be cancer. Nobody expects a pandemic to occur and the whole country shuts down. I can’t wait. What will happen to me if I wait any longer and there is a situation? I am in pain every day,” an emotional Bissoon told Guardian Media yesterday.Six weeks have passed since she underwent a failed surgery that left her confined to bed in the Bahamas with no family around. Her husband and daughter are home in Trinidad. Through the compassion of her landlady, Bissoon gets by. But with no salary coming in and the financial aid from her family running low, she needs assistance. It will now cost approximately US$150,000 ($1 million) for Bissoon to undergo another surgery in the Bahamas. But her husband’s T&T insurance coverage has been rejected by Doctor’s Hospital and her doctor has now advised her to return to Trinidad for treatment.“I need to come home because I need to get my procedures done. I started some here: CT Scan and MRI,” Bissoon said.

“I have eight weeks of radiation that was prescribed by my oncologist and I have six sessions of chemotherapy. I am awaiting those costs. I also have another surgery to do at Doctor’s Hospital and that is expensive.”

Bissoon had worked as a quantity surveyor for the external works during the renovation of the Red House and Cabildo Building with NH International before leaving Trinidad. However, before she left for the Bahamas she felt a pain on the right side of her stomach and visited a gynaecologist who did a pap smear that revealed abnormal cells. But she said her new employer, SMG Construction, wanted her to start as a quantity surveyor earlier than expected and she went to Nassau on February 12 and began working the following day.Following her gynaecologist’s recommendation, she scheduled a biopsy at the Ladies Medial Centre to determine the cause of her unnatural cells. After a month of reschedules, she underwent the procedure which left her bleeding. A few days passed and her condition worsened. Her landlady took her back to the gynaecologist, who recommended a blood transfusion and cone biopsy. The procedures were done and two weeks ago, Bissoon was told she had cancer. Even if her insurance covers the cost of surgery, she is required to fork out 20 per cent of the US$150,000 for the new surgery. “I am paying for everything out of my pocket at this time and it is expensive here,” she said.

Bissoon said she tried getting contact information for Minister of National Security Stuart Young to start a process for an exemption to return home but was unsuccessful. She also tried sending emails to the T&T Consulate in Nassau and the Consulate General in New York but both bounced back. She said when she contacted the National Security Ministry in T&T, the staff told her to send a letter from her company staying she was laid off.“They said to me ‘you know the borders are closed right?’”The Bahamas has also closed its borders to stem the COVID-19 cases and Bissoon non-essential services had also been shut down and her employers informed her that because she was new they could not offer her a salary during the shutdown. “I asked whether they would pay rent or offer assistance through the pandemic. I had to fight and stand up and let them know that I am alone, I had no family here and they were leaving me stranded in a foreign land. What am I to do?”SMG advanced Bissoon part of her rental cost and told her to give half to her landlady.

Bissoon said there may be other T&T nationals in the Bahamas and hopefully they can pool resources for a flight back to Trinidad if and when Young responds to her plight.