, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6: As of 9.am this morning 6,111,638 Shillings was raised to this cause, six times the target amount. Kenyans have made a bold statement, putting their Mpesa where their hearts are.
You are 22-years old in your third year in campus, studying political science and sociology. You start getting these headaches but you dismiss them. You pop a Panadol Extra. Headache gone. You go through life; attending class, keeping your head as low as a 22-year old in campus can.
Maybe you chase a few girls. You sit in the mess eating your beans and chapo. You boil water in your room using your immersion heater at midnight and make some instant coffee which you sip as you study Machiavelli. Or Karl Marx. Fridays you might head to your friends’ room for some liqour, a cackle, troop into town for a little jiggy – or what the young-ins now call “turning up?” The headaches keep coming, only stronger each time. The Panadols don’t help. Neither do Brufens. Often you have to draw the curtains and lie still on your bed, measuring your breathing. The campus doctor suggests you see another doctor who suggests that you go for a CT-Scan.
A few weeks later you darken the door of Kenyatta Hospital. They take pictures of your brain with that big scary machine and when he’s done, the radiologist tells you that you may need to call an older relative to come to the hospital. You tell him that you don’t have a relative in Nairobi. He says that you should go home and come back on Monday (it’s Friday) because he has to consult other radiologists. You ask him what the results are and he says, “There is something in your head.” You stare at him and ask, “Something like what?” And he says, “Hold on,” and he picks up the phone and calls another radiologist who shuffles into the room and together they hold up the scan of your brain, pointing at blotches with pens, mumbling and circling dark areas.
You are handed the scans in a brown envelope and told to give them to your doctor. Outside the room, sitting on a cement bench, you open the envelope and read the report. You have a ‘Grande III Ependymoma on the left paretial’ the report says, which is just another way of saying that you have a brain tumor.
You have a brain tumor! At 22.
You sit there on the cold cement. A throng of people walk by; they are soundless, blurry, like shadows creeping through the night. You sit there for a while, trying not to feel alone. Your mom is waiting for a call from you but you are scared for her more than you are scared for yourself. You went to university to feed your brain with knowledge but all you got was a brain tumor. How do you break that to your mom?