CANCER WARRIOR: Family, friends and faith got me through my treatment

Thursday February 7 2019

Florence Akoth has been cancer-free for two years.

Florence Akoth has been cancer-free for two years. PHOTO | KAREN MURIUKI 

KAREN MBUYA MURIUKI
By KAREN MBUYA MURIUKI
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Florence Akoth, 42, has been cancer-free for two years. She has lived through a difficult time, being the breadwinner of her family even while on treatment for breast cancer. Florence, a hairdresser, wife and mother of two believes that her faith in God healed her. She shares her story with Nation.co.ke.

 

“In mid-October 2015, I noticed a lump in my left breast as I was taking a shower. It was painless. Three days later, a boil developed on the same breast, and I began to feel some pain.

I thought that the lump and the boil would go away, but they did not.

I decided to seek medical advice a week and a half later at the Kenyatta National Hospital. An ultrasound showed I had a two-centimetre sized lump. A biopsy was done immediately and the doctor said it was non-malignant (non-cancerous) and would go away with time.

But the lump grew bigger each passing day, so I went back to hospital month later. Another ultrasound showed that the growth was now eight centimetres. A second biopsy was conducted and this time, it was determined that it was cancerous and at stage 3B. This was on 22nd December 2015. I will never forget that date because it was the day that my life changed.

I was alone when I went in for the biopsy results, but I was neither shocked nor scared after receiving them. Not one bit. Because I was born-again, I knew was that God wanted to glorify Himself in me.

TREATMENT PLAN

My oncologist suggested that we should start the treatment with chemotherapy instead of a mastectomy (surgical removal of breast tissue) because of the rapid growth of the lump. Chemotherapy would help it reduce in size before the surgery.

I had my first round of chemotherapy in January 2016 and I went through eight cycles until July of the same year.

Chemotherapy is horrible. I developed some nerve problems and I would be in serious pain on some days. My nails turned black and I lost my hair. I however embraced my loss of hair with a lot of positivity and never wore a wig in the first few months of the chemotherapy. I also lost my appetite but I am lucky to have not lost any weight during the treatment.

The mastectomy was done towards the end of the same month. Just like the loss of hair, I embraced this too and would wear my clothes without the mastectomy bras without any worry.

I then had to undergo 25 sessions of radiotherapy to ensure that all the cancer cells were completely destroyed. I would go each day of the week for five weeks. Luckily, radiotherapy was not as tough as chemotherapy.

About a month and a half later, in January 2017, I underwent some tests which showed that the cancer cells were completely gone. I have been cancer-free ever since.

FAITH HEALED ME

My husband has been jobless for six years. I have been the breadwinner for a long time, even when I was on treatment.

Finances were a challenge for us but many of our friends and family supported us through contributions. They also encouraged me, and I am thankful to them.

I am also grateful for my Bishop, John Ndegwa, and his wife. They supported me emotionally and financially during this period.

I believe that I am alive because of my faith in God. And it is because of my experience that I go to Kenyatta Hospital, Nairobi Hospice and the Texas Cancer Centre to encourage other patients and assure them that God heals.

I would like to tell those who are undergoing treatment or have just been diagnosed that cancer is not a death sentence. Always confess positivity, as bad as it may get. It goes a long way. Also, hold your faith in the Lord.”

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The Cancer Warrior story series tells the stories of cancer survivors. To share your cancer story, email [email protected]

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