I have never seen Kenyans scared of anything until cancer hit home. Hard!
Everywhere you go, the talk is about this monster killer. And why wouldn’t anyone be scared? Cancer first drains your body and your money before it kills you.
It has become an epidemic and has created fear and helplessness in Kenyans and across the world.
Yes, it has left many questioning their lifestyles and whether they are inviting the scourge unknowingly.
I remember a time when cancer was just associated with smoking and drinking. It was therefore safe to assume that the monster ‘will never attack’ you.
But nowadays, everything around us seems to have tendrils leading to cancer.
We have grown so paranoid that after years of not buying meat that flies hover around, on grounds it’s unhygienic, we have now discovered that that kind of meat is actually better than the ‘clean’ supermarket beef.
Right now, we cannot be caught looking twice at a butchery whose stock of beef does not attract flies because, again, we have been told that those flies are an indication that the meat is devoid of any chemical.
Back then, we used to think spotted ripe bananas were bad and would spoil fast. We avoided these and went for the beautiful, spotless, out-of-a-magazine look of a banana.
Now we are learning that such ‘clean’ bananas could mean they have been laced with some chemical substances to ripen faster.
We have also stopped buying vegetables like spinach that look too green, too leafy and rich with colour, lest it turns out it was sprayed with something poisonous.
Thanks to greed and the desire to make money fast, it seems no one can be trusted to grow healthy food anymore!
How about walking in the sun after 10am or before 4pm? Did you know that’s dangerous too? It’s cancer smiling at you, so we have been told.
We are all scared for ourselves and our children. The rich and poor, black and white, are all shaken.
It’s so bad that when one gets a headache that lasts two or more days, they start worrying whether those are the initial cancer symptoms.
Have you ever done an online search for a symptom to establish it’s possible cause and then what happens?
One of the many suggestions offered tells you it could be a type of cancer! Cancer has such finality.
Although it may be argued that some people have survived it, a majority haven’t. It is killing millions fast.
The poor man goes down first but the rich dodge it for a while but eventually it catches up with them. Some people are even wishing they would rather contract HIV than cancer!
Lifestyles have changed and diets are improving. And that’s a positive thing. Could this be cancer talking to us directly? Eyeball to eyeball?
Daring us to continue living recklessly and see how our generation will be wiped out? Why was cancer so rare a few decades back?
Maybe it is because they did things the long way. They planted their food and harvested it at the right time.
They had little in the way of technology to enable them interfere with the natural process of things.
But we should not live in fear. Especially when the control is beyond us.
Let us turn this fear into rage that can move this problem around. There is much we can do as individuals to stop cancer. And the first place we may have to look into is our diet. Because as they say, we are what we eat.
Mrs Mugunda is a graphic designer at Nation Media Group.