, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – Public Health and Sanitation Minister Beth Mugo has disclosed that she suffers from breast cancer but said that it had been detected early and treated through surgery in the United States.
The minister becomes the second government official to go public with a debilitating ailment, after Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o disclosed last year that he had prostate cancer.
“Aren’t those very personal issues?” she posed in response to a question on what kind of surgery she underwent (whether mastectomy or removal of the tumour).
“I come out with a little thing… you make it an elephant. Surgery is surgery, I should say that the whole cancer was removed and I was very fortunate we noticed early and it had not spread whatsoever. So the surgery was simple,” she added.
Mugo said the cancer was detected in November last year after undergoing a mammogram.
Her choice to undergo treatment abroad brought to the fore the accessibility and quality of health care in the country.
“If you have an opportunity, then you choose where you want this (treatment) to happen but it’s not that I think there are not good doctors in this country,” she said.
“Also, why should I take the space of somebody else who might not even be able to go where I went?” she posed.
The minister will still undergo preventive treatment to hinder re-occurrence, part of which will be done in the United States.
“As you convey the message to Kenyans, don’t tell them I am sick, because I have been healed,” she said.
She encouraged women to undertake regular mammograms and learn self breast examination for early detection in case of a cancer.
“We are all candidates and the prevalence is very high here in Kenya. Every one woman out of nine has it and that shows we are at high risk,” she said.
The minister’s physician Robert Mathenge noted that up to 90 percent of women get to detect cancer when the disease has progressed from the breast to other areas.
“If women sought treatment early, then the outcome would be completely different from the perception out there that breast cancer kills,” he said.