Pink October has been breast cancer awareness month because it is the most notorious cancer affecting women worldwide.
Have you gone for screening? I am not just calling out to women, but men too. Even though women are at a higher risk of breast cancer, men too in rare occasions, do get breast cancer and it is nothing to be ashamed of. You should be alarmed if you feel any strange lump in your breast and should check it asap. It might just be a fatty lump or a cyst but then again it might not so you shouldn’t ignore. Have you gotten them checked during Pink October? If not, then what are you waiting for? You definitely should. The earlier the detection the faster and less painful the treatment and not to scare you (or myself) but also the higher the survival rate. Make it a routine as you can test any day all year round.
Check for any signs as the picture below. But also get screened by a Health Professional. Early detection saves lives.
Community volunteering is a selfless act that we as a community need to take part in to promote humanity and improve quality of living. It was an honor attending the Annual Cancer Walk Campaign that was held on 14th October by the Rotaract Club of Malindi which is a non-profit Organization and partner of the Rotary Club of Malindi. The campaign was organized by Rotaract Club of Malindi Organizing Committee Members: Medical Officer Dr. Michelle who is the President and Clinical Officer Dr. Wejes who is the Community Service Director.
Last year, the club deemed it necessary to take up the responsibility of raising awareness on cancer as its signature project in the medical field. The program is dubbed MWOC (Mashinani War on Cancer). This was so owing to the effects of cancer experienced on the community in Malindi and its environs. (Excerpt derived from Rotaract Club Malindi
Seeing a good number of people of different ages and both men and women walking to support the worthy cause was moving. The brilliant theme this year was WE CANCERvive!
In summary, it was eventful filled with energetic volunteers who cheerfully completed the charity walk, entertainment, performance from talented kids, and heartfelt speeches from cancer survivors. Additionally, Medical Oncologist Dr. Riaz Kasmani, gave a health talk joined by Hon. Dr. Anisa Omar, CECM of Health, Kilifi County. Also, free breast, cervical and prostate cancers screening was incorporated at the campaign. Finally, cake cutting marked the end of the campaign.
The Rotaract Club of Malindi is doing a great job creating cancer awareness as part of their cancer prevention and treatment scheme. They deal with breast and cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. In addition, Rotaract Club of Malindi helps create cancer awareness through charity walk campaigns, encouraging youth to join community based programs in schools, and giving back to society through starting up cancer patients support groups, procuring medicine for cancer patients using their acquired donations from donors, sponsors and the club harambees whereby donated money is collected and saved in their cancer kitty for their cancer patients. Also, they do frequent follow ups and check ups on their cancer patients for health and emotional support. I am humbled to be a part of their initiative.
In as much as Rotaract Club of Malindi helps with medical funds, they also encourage cancer patients to get health insurance – NHIF (National Health Insurance Fund) cards – so as to access quality and affordable health services in the most seamless manner.
Check Rotaract Club of Malindi blog page for more information. Rotaract Club Malindi
Here are a few written speeches from breast cancer and other cancer survivors, some of whom are close family, friends, and families of friends. The main goal is to create awareness through their cancer battle.
“Early in 2011, I had a terrible discomforting pain on one of my breasts so I went to the hospital to get it checked. I did a mammogram and that’s when I was diagnosed with fibrocystic breast disease whereby every tissue in my breast was inflamed, of which I was warned that it would lead to breast cancer. So the only solution was to cut both my breasts as both were affected. That was the toughest decision of my life but after consulting my family and getting emotional support from them, it gave me motivation to go ahead with the operation. Coincidentally after cutting both my breasts, tests came through that cancer was detected (only that it hadn’t spread from the milk ducts) known as DCIS Grade 2 – Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). It was the toughest time of my life. It lowers your self esteem as a woman no matter how old you are. It emotionally, mentally, physically and financially drains you and you need a strong support system to survive which is my family that I am thankful for. Although I was given the choice of going for reconstruction, I choose not to. However, every year I do a bone-scan routine check up for clarity purposes.
To add on to this, I would suggest to people that if you have someone in your family suffering from cancer, that should already give you the warning and courage to do routine cancer checks because cancer is also a hereditary disease. I am saying this because my Mother was also diagnosed with cancer a few months back and I lost my grandfather some years back to breast cancer. Therefore, men also should be screened for breast cancer as it does not only affect women.
Marian Thaddee Bockle
“It was sometime back in 2013 when I felt a lump in my left breast and it disturbed the peace of my mind. Even though I was given diagnosis from 2 Doctors that it was nothing serious, my gut feeling told me to go for a 3rd opinion where I had to do a biopsy. And that was when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My heart dropped. I cannot explain how devastating the news was for me to take it in. The good news was that the cancer was on its early stage. The bad news was that I had to get my left breast operated. It was the toughest decision but I had to because it was a life or death situation.
I did my first operation at Pandya Hospital and had to go through chemotherapy which is oh so painful and 30 sessions of radiotherapy 30 days of the month each 45 minutes. After the treatment I was cancer free!
6 years down the line, my right breast developed cancer. I found out through Breast Co. Foundation Mombasa of which I am a member. They offer free screening which was routine for me. I was saddened to hear about the news and had to go through another operation and the same hospital processes.
Breast cancer is no joke. My skin and nails turned black, my hair fell, I frequently fell ill and get weak and lose tons of weight. Treatment is expensive but I am grateful until this moment for the strong support that I get from first Allah, my family and close friends who have made it easier. Also, NHIF has helped me in reducing my hospital bills. However, NHIF would be more effective if they covered full radiotherapy expenses as it is so expensive. Also, Mombasa is highly in need of a radiotherapy service center because Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi is not as efficient and so we have to go to private hospitals which are expensive. Not only that but also because it drains you more as a sick person and adds extra expenses to medical bills like accommodation and transport since it is only in Nairobi that radiotherapy is offered.
One advice I would like to give to everyone especially women and young girls. Join breast cancer awareness groups, educate yourselves, remove the stigma and always make it a habit to do a monthly or yearly routine check. And once you find out that you have cancer – hypothetically – do not be in denial. Accept it and start treatment immediately without wasting time. May Allah bless you all.”
“My grandma was diagnosed with cancer at around 2012-2013 but never informed any one of us until early 2017 when she started experiencing pain on her left breast. After visiting a doctor for diagnosis we were informed that she is at stage 4 breast cancer and at that point there is nothing much that can be done medically but as a family these are words you do not accept.
From then on my mum, aunt and I became caregivers. I remember the first time I had to help her shower I saw a big wound on her breast that was pretty deep. At that point I realized cancer really eats you from inside. Each day she would experience a new symptom and eventually she found it difficult to get out of bed. One day she could not get out of bed, so she had to be in diapers and be bathed from bed.
Malindi District Hospital at the time had some hospice doctors from Canada that came home to advice us to comfort her lest her situation gets worse. About a month after this she got stroke and couldn’t talk and a week later she passed away. Seeing someone’s body literally deteriorate because of a disease is quite hard especially if it is a lived one. Six months after we lost my grandmother, my mother was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer.
I still do not know what to feel about this so I put it at the back of my mind because coming to terms with this reality is a bit hard seeing, as I sort of know how it eventually ends. A few things that I have learnt is that it is pretty necessary to get regular cancer screening and try as much as you can to eat healthy foods and lead a healthy lifestyle. And if you have any cancer patients at home try as much as possible to make them comfortable, happy, and loved.“
“I am a survivor of stage 2 cancer (Hodgkin Lymphoma) and Alhamdulillah it didn’t go to a later stage. I had a small growth on my neck for roughly 6 months, and I didn’t know what it was. It didn’t hurt nor did I have fever or anything. In my mind it was nothing. So 1 day a very close friend of mine suggested I go to hospital just for a normal check up. So I did that. Blood checks and all, a few minutes later, BOOM! I got the biggest shock in my life. The results showing I had cancer! At that time I didn’t know what kind or what even cancer was. I was crying and sad and felt like everything had stopped for a while. I broke the news to my family and close friends and everyone was in disbelief. They kept me positive and assured me that I’ll overcome this.
Sadly, treating cancer in this country is very expensive and at that time we were short in finances. My family and friends did all they could to make sure I get treatment ASAP. The treatment was very painful and for 6 months I went through chemotherapy and radiotherapy. A lot of things changed. I lost almost 20kgs, I lost my hair, I was looking very skinny. I didn’t have appetite for food, it was tough. I kept my head up and always had in my mind that I would beat this. I stayed BRAVE . There was a lot of encouragement from everyone around me. This was in 2015. The last step was to do a PET Scan, to show the cancer cells have been destroyed. This wasn’t available in the country so I had to go to S.A and do the test. The results came back a week later and it was the best news ever. I BEAT Cancer! I thanked God, my family and friends for the support and hope that I would overcome this.
A few months later we discovered that my Aunt had cancer as well. It was shocking because it caught everyone by surprise. She was looking fine and healthy until the results from her check up came through. This wasn’t the same as mine; hers had reached a further stage, stage 4. So she went to India for treatment and a week later we got the sad news she passed away. The saddest day in my life. She had stomach cancer. My Aunt was the best in many things, she treated me like one of her children, she went up and down for me to get the best treatment for my cancer. Little did we know she had cancer too.
I would say that, cancer can be caused by so many things, from what we eat to what we drink, and you can feel healthy, look healthy but deep inside there are cancer cells growing and growing. You can’t tell. For anyone out there battling cancer or knows someone fighting cancer, they should stay positive and brave, don’t go to the Internet reading about if it’s curable or not. The Internet has negative vibes. I would one day hope and pray that they find a cure for any sort of cancer, and not go through chemotherapy because chemotherapy flashes out the other blood cells. I would also wish there could be more facilities in our country to help those who can’t finance for treatment, because it is very expensive.”
“My younger sister Zeinab, got diagnosed with lymphoma cancer approximately 3 months back and she got really ill. She had just turned 21. Shockingly, it took her by storm as she passed away in less than 3 months after diagnosis. Cancer is scary and people need to take the awareness campaigns very seriously. You shouldn’t ignore any symptoms because sadly, we found out when it was too late. The only thing in my power right now is to pray for her as I know that death is the end of our life journey as human beings.”
Sending out all my love, care and support to all cancer victims, survivors and condolences to all those families who have lost their loved ones to cancer. I know what it is like to lose someone dear to you and challenges that come with treating the disease. May God protect us all.