, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 12 – Doris Mayoli, like every other ordinary Kenya, struggles to make ends meet but at the same time, she helps cancer patients with the hefty costs of managing the disease.
Through ‘Twakutukuza Trust’ an organisation she started about two years ago, Mayoli best understands what it means to have cancer and how to manage it.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005, and she has since recovered.
She uses Twakutukuza Trust to raise money in support of destitute Kenyans in the society.
This woman has an inspirational story to tell on how she conquered cancer. Mayoli like any other cancer patient went through the tough journey of lost hope, fear of death and a period of denial.
“I wanted a second opinion just to confirm if it was true that I actually had breast cancer. I went to different doctors until finally I settled on one,” she recalls.
As she looks into my eyes, the special gift of positive will and that of resilience is painted on her kind face.
The soft spoken mother of two says she spent about Sh3 million on treatment. On her own, she could not have raised that money having been the sole bread winner after separation with her husband in 2004.
“Each chemotherapy cost between Sh70,000 to Sh100,000 and they were every three weeks,” she explains. “Then after that, I had to recover after some relapses as my immunity was going down and they could not give me any chemotherapy.”
After regaining some energy, she had to start the chemotherapy afresh.
“In February 2006 I proceeded with the chemotherapy, by then it had been such a long period and I had to start from scratch, so it was again every three weeks… chemo…every three weeks…chemo…for five times,” she explains.
She then went to South Africa for radiotherapy.
July 2006 brought a sigh of relief for Mayoli and her family. “That is when I did a test and the results showed that the cancer was gone!”
“Since then I have been doing a test every year and so far, I don’t have cancer!” she appreciates.
Having been through it, Mayoli knows if it were not for her family members, her employer, colleagues and friends who contributed money to help her meet the exorbitant costs of treating her breast cancer, her story could probably have been different today.
“I had support from my family and friends. My employer also helped me to pay my bills. For others who don’t have the resources I had, they are faced with a ridiculous amount and it is not easy to get this money,” she acknowledges as she explains her thought of starting the ‘Twakutukuza Trust’.
“There are people out there who have the resources and then there are people with need. So Twakutukuza tries to put these people together, so that people can come and say I want to support a patient and then we update them as the patient progresses with the treatment,” she says.
Mayoli resigned from her job to entirely concentrate on the Trust just to ensure she can save some lives through her initiative.
She does not only go out of her way to give financial support to cancer patients, but she has also turned her attention to listening to them, sharing their fears helping them to hang on and face the disease with anticipation of defeating it.
“I got a call last evening from a girl in Kisumu and she said she has felt some lumps in her abdomen. She is really scared to go to a doctor and does not have the money for the tests, things should at least be made easier for them,” she pleads with cancer stakeholders especially the government.
She wants the government to provide more screening and affordable health centres where people can easily walk in and get screened and also get treatment if they have cancer.
From her experience, she knows that up to now, cancer services are not affordable to many Kenyans because this is what her organisation deals with on a daily basis.
At the same time she is pleading with every individual to ensure they are screened for cancer. “Early detection is very important because some cancers can be completely cured. Unfortunately many Kenyans present their cases at late stages reducing the probability of their survival.”
She also has a special message to cancer patients, “It is about being positive, I chose to be very prayerful. I had support from my two sons and we worked as a team. That is how we conquered my breast cancer!”
So far Mayoli has given 13 cancer patients financial aid and support to hundreds of others through visits and offering them counselling.
She also organises concerts which she uses as platforms for raising awareness and giving hope to cancer survivors.
In her quest to raise funds to support the growing number of cancer patients ‘Twakutukuza Trust’ is dealing with, she has organised another concert on October 21 and 22 at Prestige Plaza, Ngong Road, Nairobi.
“The concert will start at 6pm on 21st and 3pm on 23rd. Please come and support cancer patients who cannot afford to cater for their bills, come and be the shoulder they can lean on, it doesn’t matter how much you can give, even being there is contribution in its own way,” she pleads.