Doris Mayoli was going about what she considered a good life when she was hit with a stage 3 Breast Cancer diagnosis in 2005. With a cancer diagnosis, thoughts of death are inevitable and Doris was sure that she would be gone in the next 3 months. And for a recently divorced mother of young boys, the most agonizing thought was how her sons were going to grow up without a mum. And of course the absolute horror of breaking the news to them that mummy was dying. She fought with thoughts of whether their young minds would grasp the magnitude of cancer, let alone loss of their mum at such a young age. How they would envision growing up without her.

She went through treatment – surgery and harrowing chemotherapy that made even her bones ache. Chemo smelt of strange chemical fumes, except that this time they were inside her body. It made her so weak and often times all she could do was lie in bed and want to give it all up and wait for death. She was always sick, nauseated and battling other worldly lethargy. Then the physical effects on her appearance came. She lost her hair, her nails and palms turned black, she lost appetite and her weight plummeted. For a woman to lose her looks brings on a whole lot of other psychological problems to add onto the burden of fighting cancer.

Then, after 11 months of fighting, and often times wanting to give up, she beat cancer. It was not easy but she did beat it and the doctors gave her the all clear in 2006. At first when she was declared cancer free she was confused. She had been so used to being sick and being in and out of hospital that when it was all over she wondered what to do with her life. But one thing she knew she wanted to do as she recollected herself was to help other people who were going through cancer. She wanted to create a space where other people going through cancer could find solace, comfort, and most of all, get some financial help towards treatment. She had always been involved in music and so it came easily for her to help through music. That is how Twakutukuza Trust was born in 2009. And it is out of the birth of the trust that Twakutukuza Concert came to be.

Twakutukuza is a musical concert where people come together to help raise funds for people living with cancer. It is the main fund-raising event for the trust and the first one was staged in 2009 with surprisingly good results! What Doris thought was a one off has since become an annual concert, attracting more and more people each year.

I met Doris Mayoli and part of the Twakutukuza Trust crew at Barclays Headquarters yesterday at an event aimed at wrapping our heads around cancer. We got to listen to the touching stories of not just Doris, but other cancer survivors as well. There was also an oncologist who shed more light on the disease, caregivers, and a Government representative who spoke about how Government can help in managing the runaway scourge that is cancer.

As part of its Shared Growth agenda, Barclays Bank is giving back to society and has partnered with Twakutukuza for the last couple of years to help fight Breast Cancer. Under shared growth, Barclays believes that as it grows, so should the society. In the words of Caroline Ndun’gu – Director Marketing and Corporate Relations at Barclays, “As a bank our core responsibility to our fellow Kenyans is to provide them with financial solutions that help them meet their ambition in the right way. We’re however alive to the fact that we also operate within an ecosystem and we therefore cannot view our success in isolation.  In fact, we view ourselves as an integral part of the communities we operate in as captured in our shared growth philosophy which takes the view that when society prospers we prosper and when we prosper, society prospers because ours is a symbiotic relationship”.

Cancer is a dark journey that has affected almost all of us, either directly or indirectly. You can be part of the great initiative that is Twakutuza by donating through Buy Goods number 56213. Better yet, attend the Twakutukuza Concert at Nairobi Baptist Church on Friday 4.00pm, Saturday 5.00pm and Sunday 3.00pm.

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