Hey everyone. This will be a different post from the usual. As October comes to an end, a pressing issue has to be addressed. This is Cancer Awareness and for this series we will be talking about Breast Cancer Awareness. This is a joint project that was conceptualized and implemented with a very good friend of mine who is not so new on this blog, Zynzii Oyiera. As part of our project we decided that we would speak to and get stories of various people that had conquered Breast Cancer. This was made possible by Hilda Muthoni who linked us to a group of women based in Nyeri, who formed a support group for people who are undergoing cancer treatment within the region. On the 17th of October we all, including our very good friend, a Violinist, Paul Macharia, embarked on the journey to Nyeri to meet this group of women. We got a chance to hear their different stories and the challenges they faced through the treatment. For us it was an eye opening experience as we got to feel the emotional side as well as the physical side to what they underwent from the time they got diagnosed with this curable disease. Here is the first story, stay tuned to the blog for more stories. Do share this widely as it may change someone’s life out there. Also do leave a comment below on your thoughts about this project.
Meet Alice Wanjiku Macharia. She discovered her first sign which was a lump on her left breast. Upon this discovery she went to the Karatina General Hospital for a check up. The doctor that attended to her told her that it was indeed a serious issue. Unfortunately as she was getting her biopsy done the doctors added some drugs which made her feel immense pain as the biopsy ws being done for the sample to be taken to a hospital in Nairobi.
As the results came back she found out that she had Cancer. This news shocked her and made her go into denial. She couldn’t believe it since she had heard of no history of Cancer before. So she went to Mt. Kenya Hospital.There, the doctors did a biopsy and this time they divided the samples where one was sent to Nairobi the other to Dr. Gatei still in Nairobi. When the results came back one was positive (That she had cancer) and the other was negative. This was confusing for her. Her family came together to discuss the next step to be taken regarding the issue. A family member advised her to seek treatment at The Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi. She then went to the Aga Khan Hospital taking with her the results she got from Dr. Gatei and also her other results. Because of her numerous conflicting tests her case was complicated which made the doctors at Aga Khan advise her on taking another test. As they did the test they pointed out that the other doctors had made a mistake since they had removed a large portion. The final result revealed that she had Cancer.
Luckily she got her diagnosis during the month of October which is a Cancer Awareness Month. She was told that instead of paying 120,000 KES for the surgery she could pay a discounted price of 80,000 KES instead. They removed her breast and then proceeded with her treatment. She was sent to Kenyatta National Hospital where she did her radiation treatment and was also put on the Tamoxifen therapy treatment which she took for two years. This had a side effect on her as she started growing a beard. This requires her to shave her beard just as a man does but that didn’t bother her. She has stayed for 10 years facing stigma from the society. When she forgets to shave and steps out of the house, people stare at her because of her beard. But she has gotten used to all that as she is a born again Christian and she puts it all in God’s hands. She is happy, even though people look at her and judge her by her appearance, God has kept her well and has enabled her to bring up her children who are now done with school with one in the University and the other just completed form four and is now waiting to go into college in January next year.
As she meets with the other ladies in her group, they help each other as when they share their experiences, they build up each other’s courage. Also if there is anyone else that has been diagnosed with cancer they rush to help them and assure them that all is well and it is not the end. Even when they get side lined by their husbands because they are sick and they could easily marry a ‘healthy’ woman. But that is something they are use to and God will keep them.
She has now finished 10 years and she knows that she will live for many more years to come, Because He Lives.
(This is as told by Alice Wanjiku)
Header Image by Zynzii Oyiera.