How my story begins: The organisation I was working here in Kenya for arranged for pap smear test for all women in the organisation. I took the test and one week later I got a phone call from the hospital asking me to go get my results. I walked in the doctor's room and I was told "You have cervical cancer and we need to do total hysterectomy." No counseling. No nothing! I brought my result to my employer who then helped me arrange for some support. Having the surgery was a difficult decision for me to make. My husband encouraged me to do the surgery to save my life.
Life before my diagnosis: I'm a last born in a family of 10 and I am loved to the moon and back. My family had protected me from every unforeseen danger by providing me with everything I needed growing up.
How I felt after diagnosis: I felt devastated and fell into depression. I had already lost 2 babies and having a hysterectomy meant I was not going to have babies again. This crushed my spirit. I asked God a lot of questions.
Telling my family and friends: It was the hardest thing to do because of the love they had for me. But I had to share my diagnosis with my family and friends, as I needed their support both emotionally and financially to be able to walk this journey comfortably.
My treatment: My treatment was surgery after surgery after surgery. I remember I had 13 procedures, all done in a hospital operating room because I had a low immune system as a result of HIV. Then I had recurrence after 3 years when cancer spread to my colon and rectum.
How I felt after treatment: Pain.
What was most difficult for me: What was most difficult for me was accepting the diagnosis. This is because of how it was said to me.
One difficult thing which I'm still struggling with is living with an ostomy. It's very difficult as the ostomy supplies are costly and not easy to find here in Kenya. We depend on donations from Friends of Ostomates Worldwide - Canada (https://www.fowusa.org/).
Another difficult thing was that my husband left me since I could not give him babies. Unfortunately he died during his search!
What I did to help myself: I quickly tried to find other survivors/cervivors. I found a local support group and joined. Hearing encouraging testimonies from these ladies gave me strength to go on.
My life after cancer: I am now free from cancer but I have to live with the knowledge that I cannot conceive. Also, I live with a condition known as ostomy which requires special appliances to manage it.
Where I am today: By God's Grace I am alive!
What I want other women to know: I want every woman to know that cervical cancer is easily detectable and can be treated if detected early.
NO WOMAN SHOULD DIE OF CERVICAL CANCER..
How I will try to help others: I share my story with different audiences to inspire them that there is hope even after a cancer diagnosis. I will also urge every woman to go for cervical cancer screening and also have their girls vaccinated with the HPV vaccine.
Any additional information you'd like to share: I have lived with HIV since 1999. I lost 2 babies due to HIV.
My message to the world; I will not die of AIDS, but of AGE.
I celebrated my 50th birthday on 19th October and I believe God has many more ahead for me.
Let's all keep HOPE ALIVE.