My fight is over, and I am alive!

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In 2009, at only 19 years, Chepng’etich was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with only 6 months to live.  She had just completed her first year at in Moi University, Eldoret when she started losing weight and sweating a lot. This drastic weight loss got her mother worried and she went for malaria and typhoid tests. She tested positive for typhoid and was put on medication immediately. However, she got worse with the night sweating even more severe.

In June, a friend noticed some swellings all around her neck with one protruding abnormally. Thinking it had something to do with her thyroid gland; she decided to go to a physician. He sent to her to a surgeon, who immediately recommended surgery to remove one of the many growths for pathology. The results came, and it was a teary eyed mother who had to tell her that she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

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A series of intensive chemotherapy, radiotherapy and physiotherapy was done, after which subsequent tests showed there was complete tumour resolution. “The fight was over, and I was alive”.

The journey-Rhabdomyosarcoma

ACF blog

It all began in 2007 when my brother was in high school. During their closing day he was found lying unconscious on the ground and was rushed to the hospital. Nothing concrete was diagnosed and he was discharged from the hospital. We all forgot about the incident and it was business as usual, until a few years later when he was in University. I remember that moment vividly as though it was yesterday. “It is happening again, this light headedness is not a good sign” he said, and before I could even utter a word, he was holding his head and screaming. At first, I froze; I had never seen someone go through such pain. I rushed out of the room and called my dad who came rushing in. We did not know what to do. I whispered a prayer, “Dear Lord, ease his pain, Amen”. Five minutes later the pain was gone.

The following day he went to see a doctor and on doing all the tests, my brother’s health was found to be good. He was found to be as fit as a fiddle. However, sometimes bad results are better than no results. I wished the cause of the headaches could be established.

There was only one solution to the problem at that time, to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying problem. His blood pressure was of great concern and he was put under medication. He was then diagnosed with a rare type of epilepsy. The pain was now in the head, the legs and lower back. The pain killers we were given did not seem to ease the pain.

When the scan results were out, the tests revealed that a lump had grown on the side of his belly. Chris, my brother, had cancer- Rhabdomyosarcoma. The doctor assured us that it was an easy to treat cancer as it responds well to chemotherapy.

The shock on everyone’s face was one that I will live to remember.  This was now the beginning of our journey to recovery and the hospital became our second home.  Chris had to undergo radiation therapy and then chemotherapy for four days. The side effects of the treatment kicked in; nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite and even corrosion of the mucous membrane of the food pipe. His chemotherapy lasted for one year.

What amazed me was that Chris insisted on going back to school even though the drugs were weighing him down. He wanted to be normal and continue with his life. He had a passion for law, he loved what he was doing and that was enough to divert his mind from getting depressed. He went back to school, did what his normal friends did except when he was feeling weak, tired or in the hospital.

When we went for his monthly checks, the joy doubled as he was declared cancer free. This was the best news one could ever hear during their fight against cancer. We celebrated and thanked the Lord.  However, our joy was short lived. In 2011 the left side of his face began to swell. The doctor informed us that the tumour had moved from its primary source to the eye pelvis and this meant that Chris had Stage Four Cancer. He began chemotherapy sessions and this affected his kidneys. He had this queer cough and irregular heartbeats, a chest x-ray was done and the results were not good.

As we took him for admission in the hospital again, he broke down and vented all his frustrations and he refused to see any doctor. His doctor was the only person who convinced him to be taken back to his room. When the results were out, cancer had rapidly spread to the lymph nodes, kidneys, lungs and the cornea. Unfortunately, Chris succumbed to cancer the following morning on the 15th of January 2012. Cancer had taken a young boy of only 20 years.