BINH PHUOC — At 26, Nguyen Thi Phuong from southern Ben Tre Province, is much younger than her 34-year-old husband Nguyen Thanh Tuyen, but few people can tell.
Avoiding her curious neighbours, Phuong (left) feels at home in Binh Phuoc, safe in her husband's care. For the past four years, Phuong has busied herself with husking cashew nuts at home while her husband works as a carpenter to pay for her treatment. — VNS Photo Xuan Binh
Her appearance has turned into that of a 70-year-old woman because she has used many types of medicine to treat seafood allergies in 2007.
Now, Phuong's voice is the only indication of her true youth and once extraordinary beauty.
As a couple, she and her husband look more like mother and son. Despite the fact she has no children, Phuong's skin has taken on the appearance of someone who has given birth to at least three. But that is where her defect stops.
She and Tuyen still love each other deeply, even more so than at the time of their marriage. Her husband has spared no effort to help his wife deal with her painful affliction, moving her to Binh Phuoc Province to avoid noisy relatives and neighbours.
For the past four years, Phuong has busied herself with husking cashew nuts at home while her husband works as a carpenter to pay for her treatment.
She said that with her husband at her side she has remained confident and full
"Love has been the most important element in helping me overcome my illness," Phuong said.
Tuyen recalled how he had found his wife experiencing an allergic reaction after eating seafood and how he had rushed to the drug store in Cho Lach District to
buy some medicine with the hope of alleviating her suffering.
However, the medicine resulted in Phuong's face breaking out in hives.
Frightened, she rushed to a traditional clinic in Giong Trom Township for a check up and more medicine, which she consumed over a period of six months. Although she eventually returned to health, Phuong started gaining a lot of weight, subsequently diagnosed as symptoms related to liver disease.
Since 2009, she has had to wear a facemask to elude staring eyes. The couple did all they could to find a solution to their predicament, but money soon ran out.
Tuyen confirmed that what had happened to his wife was part of a fate they had to endure together.
Doctors Vo Thi Bach Suong and Nguyen Hoai Nam, from the HCM City University of Medicine, told Thanh Nien newspaper that Phuong had suffered the side effects of corticoid, a blend of traditional medicine, creating a condition known as Cushing Syndrome that makes the skin wrinkle.
Doctor Tang Ha Nam Anh, from the Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital confirmed the findings based on Phuong's prematurely aged condition.
Yesterday was a happy day as Phuong and her husband eagerly returned to her hometown in Ben Tre Province to meet relatives and friends. This followed the large amount of support they had received since her life story was first published in local newspapers.
On October 3, having received confirmation that several patrons and hospitals had promised to help treat her disease, Phuong, in tears, stated that it was the happiest day of her life.
Nguyen Dinh Chieu General Hospital in Ben Tre Province promised to help treat Phuong's disease in co-operation with the HCM City Hospital of Dermatology and Venerology as well as the Cho Ray Hospital, with the Hoan My Hospital standing by.
Phuong said that some patrons had even volunteered to take her to foreign countries in order to treat her ailment, giving her up to VND50 million in advance alongside the promise to take care of any expenses incurred on her road to recovery. — VNS