Picture this, you are about three years old, with your entire life before you. Kids your age are in school studying. They are picked in the morning from their homes by school buses and later dropped in the evening from school. Their clothes are stained, a sign that they have been playing all day in school. You see them arrive and wish you could accompany them but you cannot, because your life has been designed in such a way that play and other childhood activities are luxuries you can only dream of, because throat cancer has decided your fate for you. You spend a better part of it in MP Shah Hospital holding a pipe through your throat, which your dad supports and holds it still as your mum pours food in liquid form through a syringe placed at the mouth of the pipe. This is how you have your meals. Cancer did things somewhere between your mouth and gut so much so that you cannot properly swallow food and there has to be an improvised way of ensuring you are fed. At age three.
This is the story of a young girl, Cynthia, who is one of the patients I met, during the launch of the Cancer month campaign that was done yesterday, at the Faraja Cancer Support Center in Parklands. I was seated across the room from them, just about to launch a campaign of my own, of getting the Wi-fi password of the place, (because humans like free things and I am human) and I almost didn’t notice her, because she is so tiny. It is the feeding tube that grabbed my attention. For a moment I put a stop to my password quest and just observed. She is a tiny pretty girl, with such pretty eyes that just reach out to you.
It is for people like Cynthia, that Nakumatt Holdings has partnered with Faraja Cancer Support Trust for the second year, to support and ease the financial burden by providing cancer treatment, access to life-saving cancer screenings and education through the campaign which will involve its customers.
The campaign seeks to boost awareness during the month of October about the disease that is reported to claim approximately 18,000 lives in Kenya per year. Last year saw 5 million shillings raised through the campaign, which has been used in the treatment of six cancer patients and in screening exercises in Kisumu and Thika. This year, the drive seeks to raise about 15 million with the aid of its customers, who can contribute by buying Blue Label products, donating Smart Points and cash donations towards the cause.
Speaking at the launch, Cindy Ogana, the Faraja Fundraising Manager, listed financial disability and lack of timely access as the biggest barriers to surviving cancer in Kenya. She pointed out the dire need for early diagnosis, saying that over 30 per cent of women are routinely diagnosed with breast cancer only after it has spread beyond the localized stage.
A report written by the International Journal of Cancer, indicates that people with lower socioeconomic status are more likely to engage in behaviour that increase the risk of getting cancer such as smoking, physical inactivity, and poor dieting habits, so be wary of the kind of lifestyle you live.
Get screened today, make a contribution in whatever way you can during this month of October. You might just be the one to give Cynthia, or someone else that is in need, the chance to live and achieve their dreams.