, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – It feels as though I’m holding a cold cut of meat. There is nothing remarkable about it to me but to the over 30 women who have received it, it symbolises a return to normalcy.
“Being a young lady I can’t just walk on the streets without one breast. It’s good that KENCASA has supported us with that because it’s very expensive. Many people cannot afford it,” Sophia Fareed Bule, a 27 year old undergoing treatment for breast cancer says.
KENCASA is the Kenya Cancer Association and today they are donating breast prosthesis to women who have lost one or both breasts to the disease.
It is the culmination of an effort that began in October when more than 20 women had their heads shaved in support of women battling cancer.
The proceeds from their hair that was auctioned to well wishers, have been used to buy artificial breasts as the Vice Chairperson of the Association, David Makumi, explains.
“People who have had cancer have used most of their money in chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and by the time they are done with treatment, they have no more money for rehabilitation.”
Breast prosthesis cost anything between Sh12,000 and Sh15,000 making them out of reach for a good number of breast cancer survivors as indicated by Sophia; a state of affairs Makumi sees as unfortunate given they assist recovery.
“Rehabilitation is an area of cancer treatment that people don’t pay attention to which is really sad because prosthesis are not items of luxury or fashion. They are rehabilitation items.”
“When soldiers lose their limbs in battle, don’t they get fitted with prosthetics? They are essential for a return to normal life.”
When she first felt a lump in her left breast and sought her family’s opinion, she was told it was most likely a milk clot.
“It was my first born so my relatives would ask me, ‘Sophia you don’t know how to breast feed your baby well?”
“I’ve gone to school and that explanation just didn’t sit right with me so I went for a check up.”
Sophia was diagnosed with breast cancer just as her daughter entered her seventh month of life.
“People would tell me, ‘Sophia do you know that you’re dying soon?’ You can imagine and these are your relatives in some instances.”
“At first I cried because you have to let it out. But now I don’t fear because everything that happens to a person, God has planned it to be.”
A week later she had her right breast cut out.