As the world on Thursday marked World Cancer Day, only a small percentage of women go for early screening of cervical and breast cancer leading to more death cases due to the disease.
For 80-year-old Rael Busienei from Kitale, it has been 10 years of excruciating pain battling with breast cancer.
According to the Busienei, being diagnosed with breast cancer changed her life completely.
She narrates how the dreaded disease started as a simple swelling on her breast. She then sought medical attention at a hospital in Kitale town.
“Niligonjeka karibu mwaka kumi, nilifura kabisa. Nikaenda Kitale kupima nikasema wapasue watoe hiyo kitu. (I have been sick for ten years now. My breast started swelling. It became so large that I sought medical attention. I told the doctors to conduct a surgery to remove the swelling.),” narrates Busienei.
Busienei’s family was not left out in her painful journey that was not only draining but also very expensive. The family was forced to forego all developmental projects for purposes of treating their mother.
“The treatment was expensive that we had to sell our items such as livestock so as to ensure that our mother gets the best treatment. We could her of any good doctor and take our mother there, just for her to beat cancer,” Rael’s daughter says.
Busienei is just one of the many cancer patients in the country. According to the Ministry of Health, there are 82,000 cancer cases and 27,000 deaths annually.
Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) for Health Dr. Rashid Aman says that the five cancers diagnosed annually are: Breast cancer with approximately 6,800 new cases, Cervical cancer with 5,200 new cases, Prostate cancer with 3,400 new cases, Oesophogal cancer with 2,900 new cases and Colorectal cancer with 2,724 new cases.
“Together, these five leading cancers account for 50% of all new cancers annually with only 16% and 10% of women having undergone cervical cancer screening and clinical breast examination respectively,” CAS Aman says.
The ministry is urging all Kenyans to get tested since the government has provided free screening at various hospitals across the country. This, the ministry says, will enable the country fight the dreaded disease.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted the cancer treatment and management in the country since most people feared hospital visitations due to the possibility of COVID-19 contraction,” said an oncologist from RFH Healthcare.
The Turkana County Executive Committee Member for Health and Sanitation, Jane Ajele, cautioned the residents of Turkana against tobacco use as she said it is one of the major causes of cancer especially that of the lungs.