Today is world cancer day. What can I say about cancer? It is like death. It does not discriminate. You can have it at any age. Wee babies, elderly folk and those in their prime may have it. Some studies have shown that certain foods prevent cancer. So people blindly eat the fruit, condiment or vegetable and assume they are cancer free. I used to believe that. Till someone very dear and close to me got cancer. They led a very healthy lifestyle, eating clean and exercising regularly. Then one day, cancer knocked at the door. They beat it! That was a mean feat, someone I knew beat cancer! Or so I thought, it came back in full force worse than ever. This person, who used to walk 10kms a day, walks 1 km on a good day. Sometimes barely walking, sometimes barely eating. Confined to their home, a once outgoing and vibrant personality has been reduced to a shell of their selves. His wife has now come to appreciate the things she had no idea he did for his family. On the other hand the shoulders of the work he used to do and she currently does rest on her. Things are tough financially and emotionally as one problem is solved it seems another one keeps resting on her shoulders. A vicious cycle, that keeps eating into their daily lives, it’s been hard to bear witness. No moral support from their family members. No moral support from friend’s. It seems like life will never be the same again. I sympathise and empathise with this couple. I try my best to give support where possible. When you offer help without being asked it’s hard for those in need to accept it. I understand fully , it is hard to rely on someone else when you are used to relying on each other. I am just a young person to them after all.
Having cancer within a family or someone you consider dear is life changing. It not only makes you stop and look at your life but it gives you temporary paralysis. The stages start with grief, fear of the unknown, feelings of selfishness when you want to have a good time. It is a waiting game of when, how, what? The paralysis of thoughts—what ifs? Realisation that time may indeed run out and what can you do to maximise it? How can you make it better? What can you do? The sun shines brightly outside and everyone else is happy but there’s a tinge of sadness going on in your mind.
What is really been done for cancer patients around the world?
The couple I know, resides in Kenya and this is how the scenario is. There are apparently only 6 radiation machines that are supposed to serve a population of 42 + million people. On top of that all 6 are divided between 3 private hospitals that are all based in the capital, Nairobi. The National hospital has a machine but it is outdated. Radiation is at a subsidised price of 5 € at the National hospital. Although people line up as early as 4 am outside the hospital, in hopes that they may get a chance to treatment. It is not a guarantee that they may get a follow-up , but for that one ray of radiation it’s like winning the lotto. While others are on a waiting list and are not even sure if they will live till their next treatment. Those that have no idea just live with it and eventually leave us. For those with means it means travelling to the capital. Travelling to the capital means, looking for accommodation, transportation and a reliable doctor. Those that are lucky get good referrals. The trip and treatment is expensive. Unfortunately, where people suffer there are unscrupulous fellows who try to capitalize on cancer patients and try to con them through their prescription medicine. I heard of someone who was told a 3 month dose of chemo would cost about 2000€. On finding out from their doctor the medicine actually cost 150€ for the 3 month dose.
I don’t believe in wearing a ribbon for causes unless I have done something for it. I believe we should earn it. I believe in leading by example. Sometimes I wonder what I should do about cancer as it is indirectly affecting my life. Would trying to have a fundraising dinner be obnoxious? What would my goal be to raise money for the cancer research fund? Would the money actually be used for research or help individuals? Would rounding up radiologists and oncologists to set up shop in different areas like a food truck drive around the country help? Knowing, that certain parts still do not have an electric connection till this day…Implore on a government where it’s high ranking employees leave the country to seek treatment elsewhere to save their own lives ? Will the government even care to do something about it? Become an oncologist? (That’s out of the question, I admire people who work in medical fields, but it’s not my calling)
Apparently there’s a Texas Cancer Centre started by a Doctor (oncologist) who lost her sister to cancer and has been working hard to ensure those with cancer save lives. I salute her, I am sure it is not easy to re-live that time or lose patients to cancer. At least she is doing something. What can I do? Who would listen?
Is it right to say Happy World Cancer day?
To all you reading this that have lost someone with cancer, living with cancer, know someone with cancer. Hang in there! Live in the present and try to cherish the moments, life is too short for what if, being angry or questioning it. Reinvent yourself and LOVE HARD!! Sending you strength and hugs, wherever you may be.
If any of you would like to help me brainstorm on what I or we can do about cancer. Feel free to contact me.
Have a pensive day won’t you,