TALES OF COURAGE: My battle with breast cancer

Wednesday December 13 2017

Anne Nyambura on her last day of chemotherapy at the Aga Khan Hospital, Mombasa. PHOTO | COURTESY

Anne Nyambura on her last day of chemotherapy at the Aga Khan Hospital, Mombasa. PHOTO | COURTESY 

By DIANA MUTHEU
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Ann Nyambura, 43, is upbeat about life after her fight with breast cancer.

The mother of two is no longer on medication and all she has to do is go for regular check-ups as scheduled by her oncologist.

”I have a prosthesis in my left breast but I believe I am still beautiful. My doctor calls me his miracle patient,” she says.

Nyambura’s life took a turn for the worst in December, 2014. She felt unwell so went for a check-up at the International Centre for Reproductive Health (ICRH) in Mombasa.

It is during this time that a nurse discovered a small lump in her breast and referred her for more tests.

After several scans she got the devastating news that she had stage 3 breast cancer. ”I was shocked and in denial and believed I was going to die. I did not tell anyone what the doctor had said,” she says.

She opted for a second opinion from a private hospital in Mombasa but the results were the same. In January 2015, a surgeon conducted a lumpectomy on her left breast. After 6 months, the breast had become so big it felt like it was almost bursting. She also developed high blood pressure.

SECRET IS OUT

She could no longer hide her condition. Her hair had begun to fall off and her complexion became much darker.

“This caused alarm to my family and friends who organised a fundraiser. Warembo wa Mombasa –a Facebook page that brings together women in Mombasa posted a picture with my name and a paybill number. It went viral on social media and even on local radio stations,” she says.

She needed another operation and this time, Breast Cancer Support Group (BRECASCO) headed by Hamida Becky at Aga Khan Hospital, paid half of the medical expenses she incurred. On August 2015, a mastectomy was conducted and she lost her left breast.

Dr Riaz Kasmani then put her on the chemotherapy and she went through 8 cycles. In March the next year, she had to travel to Nairobi for radiotherapy at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Parklands. She went through 33 cycles each costing Sh12,000.

”It was not easy but I remained positive during the treatment with the help of my doctors and counsellors,” she says.

HELP OTHER WOMEN

Nyambura says her experience has given her the momentum to help other women fight breast cancer: “Cancer is real but early detection is the cure. Women need to go for screening. I survived and others can do the same.”

She now works as a community health volunteer and an advocate at the Kenya Legal & Ethical Issues Network on HIV and AIDS (Kelin). The non-profit promotes human rights for those living with HIV.

Nyambura is also the face of Coast Hostess Empowering Community (CHEC), an organisation that supports women on cancer treatment in Mombasa. She is also a supervisor at the Kenya Red cross project of peer educators.