Nyong’o sets up Africa Cancer Foundation

July 14, 2011 7:47 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 12 – Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o has set up a cancer foundation to mobilise support for cancer patients.

This comes a year after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer- a form of cancer that develops in the prostate – a gland in the male reproductive system.

During the launch of the Africa Cancer Foundation, the Minister encouraged Kenyans to have routine medical checkups for early diagnosis as well as the need to eat healthy.

“Cancer treatment is found in your own lifestyle, in the food you eat, in the lifestyle you lead but is also found in a growing source of solace-alternative medicine,” Professor Nyong’o said.

“When I was in the UCSF (University of California San Francisco) medical centre, it has a whole building devoted to alternative medicine, devoted to prayer, devoted to yoga, devoted to laughter and this is very therapeutic,” he explained.

The Africa Cancer Foundation is aimed at providing access to treatment for cancer patients, whether in the private or public sector.

The foundation also hopes to provide cancer information to all.

“We care to provide information to those who care to know, who thirst to know, who need to know and who must know because knowledge is power, knowledge is social wealth and should not be hoarded for individual gain,” he said.

He expressed optimism that a comprehensive social health insurance scheme would soon be in place to cater for such health needs.

“I hope before long we shall realise the aspirations in our Constitution that every Kenyan has a right to affordable and quality health care including reproductive health. I hope that social health insurance will soon make this possible without filibusters in court mounted by selfish individuals who do not want this wonderful initiative implemented in our republic,” the Minister stated.

The event was also graced by cancer survivors who gave their heart rending stories as each of them called for more awareness creation.

One of the survivors, Mary Onyango emphasised the need for the government to set up centres for screening.

“It is absolutely necessary. I am only standing here today because of screening,” Ms Onyango, a breast cancer survivor emphasised.

“Another lesson I have learnt is the stigma that comes with the diagnosis of cancer. I think many of those who have gone before us, they probably died more from the stigma than anything else,” Ms Onyango who is also the Vice Chairperson National Cohesion and Integration Commission said.

She however expressed disappointment at the delay in debating the Cancer Bill in Parliament.

“They should find space for that Bill. May be we need to get a few women and strip at Uhuru Park or may be Parliament,” she quipped.

Ten-year old Rose Wegesa who dreams of becoming a doctor also told her story and encouraged children with cancer not to give up hope but to “trust, pray and believe – doctors treat but God heals.”

“When I was told I have cancer I cried and cried all day,” she recounted.

She narrated that she is required to go through 16 courses of chemotherapy. She is now in her fifth course.

“I don’t even know how I feel but I believe I will live to see another day,” she said.

Chief Justice Willy Mutunga called on the private sector to support the government in the health sector especially in provision of cancer services.

“Nothing stops us from coming forward and setting up research centres and medical centres that will take us to the cutting edge of medical science so as to deal effectively with the maladies among us,” Dr Mutunga urged.

Cancer begins in the cells, the building block that makes up tissues. Normally cells grow and divide to form new cells as the body needs them. When they grow old, they die and new cells take their place.

But sometimes new cells form when the body does not need them, and old cells do not die when they should. These extra cells can form a mass of tissue called a growth or tumour which can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

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