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Nyong’o: I have fought the good fight and I’ll win

BUSIA
By | March 4th 2011

By Chris Wamalwa in San Francisco, California

The sunny California weather feels heavenly at a time most parts of the US are steeped in snow.

And Golden Gate Park, believed to be one of the biggest parks in the world, appears glorious this late February evening as we make our way to the middle-income apartments in San Francisco.

Prof Peter Anyang Nyong’o appears relaxed as he walks hand in hand with his wife, Dorothy and they soon cross the street and disappear into the park.

This has been their routine for the past three months after Nyong’o was operated on to contain prostrate cancer at the University of California, San Francisco Cancer Center.

He is now undergoing chemotherapy.

Prof Nyong’o: My ambition as the Minister of Medical Services is that we do our best to make diagnostic services available so ordinary Kenyans can have access to proper health care and live longer. [PHOTO: FILE/ Standard]

The Nyong’os are virtually on their own here. There is no trail of aides, maids and hangers on. And when they travel, there are no chase cars or stretch limousines.

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Nyong’o is assigned a car to pick and drop him from the hospital for his daily treatment at the hospital, after which he would have to hop onto a bus or train to move around.

Most evenings when Dorothy is away attending Bible study in the neighbourhood, Nyong’o fixes his own dinner.

Nyong’o stunned the nation in January, when he revealed his medical condition in his weekly column in The Standard on Sunday. "I decided to let Kenyans know about my ailment for two main reasons; one, I am a public servant, employed by the Kenyan public, so they have every reason to know the state, not just of my mind but the body as well.

"I knew I was going to be away for long and so it was only fair that I let my employers, colleagues and the general public know why I’m away," he told The Standard.

The other reason for going public, Nyong’o said, was to launch a personal campaign to educate Kenyans about prostate cancer and demystify the disease.

MODERN SCIENCE

"Currently prostate cancer is one of the leading killers in our country but we are not ready to talk about it openly. This is sad because when prostate cancer is detected in its early stage it can be treated through radiation or surgery by modern science and technology. I hope that by talking openly about it, I would start a conversation around it," he said.

Nyong’o emphasised the importance of men knowing their condition by having regular and proper physical examinations so as to live longer, healthier lives.

While admitting that Kenya has done poorly in the area of preventive medicine, Nyong’o pledged to do more as Medical Services Minister to improve diagnostic services in the country.

"We do not have such facilities in Kenya at the moment. My ambition as the Minister of Medical Services is that we do our best to make them available so ordinary Kenyans can have access to proper health care and live longer," he said.

Besides collecting data he hopes to use in setting up a cancer resource centre in Kenya, he also gives talks to universities.

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