I battled the disease and came out victorious – cancer free.

Doris MayoliI was diagnosed with breast cancer on September 2, 2005 and I felt as though I had been handed a death sentence. I battled the disease and came out victorious – cancer free.

Two months before the diagnosis, while taking a shower, I felt a lump in my breast. I thought it was hormonal so I decided to give it a month or so to see if it would disappear. One month later, the lump was still there and so I had a mammogram done and, on advice from the doctor, I got a biopsy done too. The  result, breast cancer! I was horrified and distraught! I was advised to see the doctor before the end of that month to discuss the next course of action. I did not want to die and I kept thinking about my children as I wanted to be there to see them grow.

I had read about the DIEP flap reconstruction where they take a flap of skin plus whatever else is used to reconstruct a breast and this could be done immediately after a mastectomy. I could not imagine being one-breasted though of course I would not opt to keep it if it meant I would die.

I consulted various doctors for a second and third opinion; the first consultation was with a pathologist who did the test, then an oncologist who informed me that there was possibility of saving my breast. Through the oncologist I was directed to a surgeon, who checked and concurred with the diagnosis. To know if the cancer had spread to other parts of my body, I had to get bone scan and chest x-rays done. Thankfully, it was in just that one lump and in some of the nodes in my armpit.

On 29 September I got the results of the blood count, the red blood cell and haemoglobin count were within normal range, however the white blood cell count which was at 1.76 was below the recommended 3 required before commencing chemotherapy treatment. I needed the cells to multiply so that by the next blood count, they would be at least at 3. I resorted to prayers.

My hair became wispy and I started wearing a wig to work; it felt like I had lost all my femininity. Everyone consoled me saying it looked great but it was not convincing enough and I sought my strength from the Bible. Once I took paracetamol but I was unable to swallow as the chemotherapy treatment had resulted in corrosion of my throat.

After the first sessions of chemotherapy, I went for surgery. I remember the surgeon injecting some blue dye into the tumour in order to see exactly where the cancerous cells were situated and thirty minutes later I went into the operating theatre. After the surgery I had a few more chemotherapy sessions and it was after this was over that my spirits were truly lifted.

With a group of other people affected by cancer, we decided to start the Twakutukuza Trust. The Trust has facilitated musical concerts with a view of spreading hope. Whereas I was fortunate to be able to afford treatment both within and outside the country due to the generous donations from friends and family, my heart goes out to the majority of patients who are unable to get help.

Twakutukuza Trust supports cancer patients financially and most importantly gives emotional and moral support to families. My passion is to raise funds to facilitate the treatment for these less fortunate patients.

Doris Mayoli-Breast Cancer Victor

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“ All this time my mum was with me…”

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I was diagnosed with cancer of the breast in October 2005. I had found a lump on my breast while doing a self examination which I did not do often. I promised myself that I would go to the doctor that week but the lump disappeared and I thought it was a false alarm. However, about two weeks later the lump reappeared and this time the left breast started swelling and I panicked and went to the Nairobi Women’s Hospital for an examination.

I went for a mammogram at the Nairobi Hospital, a fine needle test and later a biopsy at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital. I was not ready to tell my family about the tests and took my friend Edith along for the biopsy. I waited for about a month for the biopsy results from a laboratory in South Africa. The waiting was agony but my doctor kept on reassuring me that the swelling could have been caused by many factors and the tests had so far been inconclusive and they wanted to eliminate all the possibilities.

The day of the results came and I was feeling brave so I went to the Doctor on my own hoping against hope that it was not cancer. The doctor told me the verdict that they had detected cancer and I needed to make quick decisions to have a mastectomy because I think that he said that it was a stage 4 cancer although it had not spread to my lymph nodes. I was completely numb and I think this news hit me really hard. He sent me to talk to a counsellor immediately at the hospital.

It was a Thursday. I slept for two days without telling anybody what was happening but just cried in my bedroom and shut myself trying to think but not coming up with any solutions or course of action. Then I called my elder sister to my house and told her what was happening and the next person she called was my mother who rushed over after two days to be with me for the journey that I was about to start.

I had my mastectomy at Nairobi Women’s Hospital, then my doctor referred me to an oncologist, Dr. Musibi, who took over my chemotherapy regimen. I had six chemotherapy sessions which were three weeks apart.

During the chemotherapy sessions, my boss had given me the time off and I also took sick leave to be able to go for the sessions every three weeks. When I completed the chemotherapy sessions, my mother was now sure that I was ok and would be okay on my own so she went back to her life at her rural home.

I went straight to the radiotherapy treatment regime at the Nairobi Hospital and finished the recommended radiotherapy sessions. These sessions left me tired; it would put me down for a few hours as they were administered daily for about 1 month.

I have been required to go for check-ups every year after that and I have faithfully done this until 2010 when I became scared to go for the tests as my oncologist had told me that she can only tell me whether I am cancer free after 5 years. I have been very scared to go for the check-up but after going through my counselling sessions, I am now ready to do this. Thanks to all who have stood by me and have helped me through this journey.

Pamela Dede {Breast Cancer}