Cancer screening: Little discomfort to save your life

September 22, 2014 7:09 am
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As 70 countries across the world hold the Globathon - a global event to end women gynaecological cancers, Women 4 Cancer has planned a walk on September 27 at Karura Forest/XINHUA FILE
As 70 countries across the world hold the Globathon – a global event to end women gynaecological cancers, Women 4 Cancer has planned a walk on September 27 at Karura Forest/XINHUA FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – Patrick Karanja lost his mother to cervical cancer in June this year. Though his mother is gone, he says, he has picked important lessons that he would beg everyone to learn from.

He painfully recalls the emotional ache and the financial strain that engulfed their family after their mother was diagnosed with cancer.

But what was even more worrying is that the cancer was already at stage three which means the disease had spread extensively.

“It made it hard for her to be treated. She went through a lot of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and brachytherapy,” he recalls, saying his mother had to undergo a series of therapies to fight the cancer cells.

According to Karanja, the Kenyatta National Hospital at least offers cancer treatment at better rates than private hospitals, but the waiting list of people booked to undergo chemotherapy and other cancer treatment processes was too long.

They had no choice but to sell their property to cater for their mother’s hospital bill at a private hospital.

“It’s very expensive to treat cancer; the therapies are very expensive. We opted to go to a private hospital. My dad had to sell our property… financially it was very tasking,” he explained.

The story is however different for 45-year-old Margaret Wanjiru who was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

She was lucky to have attended a church forum in which women were being encouraged to go for cervical cancer screening at least annually.

She made use of the free cancer screening only for her to discover she had cervical cancer.

“I decided to go because I lost my mum to cervical cancer four years ago. I received a call later telling me to go for further screening. After the tests were done, the doctors discovered I had the cancerous cells,” she recalled.

Though she was willing to undergo treatment she did not have money.

“The doctors told me they had to remove my womb since the cancer cells had spread. I agreed to do that because I knew it would save my life. At least I could have more years to take care of my six children,” she explained.

Luckily for her, she was approached by Women 4 Cancer which paid her hospital bills including the entire process of her treatment. Wanjiru is now cancer free and is using her example to urge women to go for early screening.

According to Women 4 Cancer Founding Member Benda Kithaka when cancer is detected early, chances of getting healed are higher than when the disease is detected at later stages.

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