Women behind the pink ribbon
Mari Bobokhia only cried once after she found out she had breast cancer.
Pink Space is a center for women with breast cancer, a safe place to tackle the fears associated with the disease. Pink Space arms women with the information they need to fight the disease and receive government assistance. It also tries to provide solace and comfort by creating a community for women survivors to turn to when they need help.
To survive cancer, both financial and emotional assistance are vital, notes Nino Berishvili-Sikharulidze.
But too often women do not have either.
While the Georgian government provides free screenings and some financial assistance for chemotherapy and other treatments, cancer treatment is still prohibitively expensive for many. The state-funded Universal Health Care program finances between 50 to 70 percent of treatment costs for low-income citizens, with a focus on those who are socially vulnerable and qualify for social assistance. Georgian citizens whose monthly income exceeds 1,000 lari (approximately 340 dollars) receive funds only for chemotherapy and hormone therapy. They can also receive some additional finances from their private health insurance but this depends on their insurance package. A person who earns more than 40,000 lari a year does not get anything from the state.
Families sell their homes, go into debt, and still struggle to find the money to pay for treatment. In some cases, Ana says, women refuse to even tell their families about their diagnosis because they know they cannot afford the treatment.
"Why do people who are struggling with this diagnosis have to think about raising money, instead of focusing on how to encourage themselves, how to find the strength to deal with it?" she asks.
Sofi Mdivnishvili photographed five women who are overcoming their fears, and are surviving and thriving despite their diagnoses.