Politics 02/02/2021

"I have a chronic cancer and am being forced to work at a poll station"

The Electoral Board of Manresa denied Jordi's allegation not to work at a poll station during the February 14 elections despite serious chronic pathologies he suffers from

3 min
Jordi, in the background, and the document of the JEZ of Manresa that rejects his allegations in the first plan.

Jordi has not touched his children for a year. They live in the same flat, have adjoining rooms, eat in the same kitchen and rest on the same sofa. They are very close to him, but they feel him very far away. "They see their father every day and can't hug him," explains their mother, Ruth. They wear masks inside the house, eat at different tables, and sometimes even take turns for lunch and dinner. Ruth explains her children are sometimes frightened of meeting their friends, because they know that anything that involves contact with the outside world can be lethal. "If I catch covid-19, it's a death sentence," confesses Jordi, 56. He has been suffering from lung cancer for four years. A strange and rare type, known as neuroendocrine: the cancer is spread throughout the different organs of the body and Jordi has between 12 and 13 tumours. The disease is chronic. Jordi has lost a lot of weight and every effort exhausts him. "He is no longer the same", says Ruth.

When it seemed that nothing could get worse, the pandemic broke out. "The cancer has taken a back seat," Ruth describes. At the end of the summer, Jordi finished a cycle of radiotherapy. "The treatment lowers his defences a lot", says his family doctor, who adds that covid-19 "would cause a high risk of mortality". To avoid this, Jordi has practically not left the house since March. Everything is precautions: his son, 14 years old, returned to school after Christmas 15 days later to avoid risks. "We live in constant anxiety," says his mother. Everything they had been keeping an eye on began to crack on 22 January. A civil servant handed them a registered letter: Jordi was the first substitute at a polling station for the 14 February elections. "We played it down. We would appeal, and that was it," Ruth recalls.

Shortly afterwards, they went to see their doctor. "It's a case of common sense," the doctor explains. In the medical report she concluded: "It's not advisable for him to be at a polling station". The family was calm. They explain that they lived quite cheerfully. On the morning of January 26, however, they went into shock. The doorbell rang, it was the same official. Once again, he handed them a registered letter. "I got scared all of a sudden", Jordi recalls. The letter was from the Electoral Board of the Manresa Zone and said, literally: "The excuse presented has not been accepted, given that there will be sufficient health measures". "They removed half of his lung, he suffers from severe cancer, he has constant diarrhoea, a heart murmur, he can't walk more than 300 metres without choking, and his defences are very low because of the radiotherapy". What Ruth now describes was spelled out in medical terms in the report. Even so, on February 14 he had to be on a table.

"He won't go!"

"Does the word of a judge take precedence over that of a doctor in health matters?" the doctor wonders. The family's response to the refusal was a "he won't go". It was repeated every day, almost a family cry that gives them strength to overcome reality. They don't want this to interrupt a journey that has already been so hard for them, to lose everything they have fought for all of a sudden, with a simple letter. At the moment of truth, they have few alternatives left. One is to refuse to go - punishable by fines and even imprisonment. They also have the option of taking the matter to the Síndic de Greuges, which has already received over 1,000 complaints. Finally, the last option is to ask for sick leave -then the JEZ has to accept their allegation-. Jordi teleworks for an insurance company. "It's everything for him, he can't do anything else", and they live day by day "self-imposing positive messages". Ruth admits that it is becoming "more and more difficult". "Since September I haven't left the house and I will have to do now to go to a poll station?"