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Lessons after cancer struck home

By Mohamed Guleid | January 16th 2017

In my column last week, I wrote about the emotional strain I was facing while coping with the pain cancer had inflicted on me and my wife.

Sadly so after the doctors said no more treatment would change her situation; that we had come to the end of the road. Our worlds, I said last week, had crashed.

After sharing the pain and the anguish with my readers, we felt relieved in many ways. It could be false hope but nonetheless my wife has shown real signs of improvement since then.

It is true that we draw strength from family and friends. My family of readers stood with me; they wrote me mail, they prayed for me and wished us well. I couldn’t have asked for more.

In the past week, I have seen her walk after being bed-ridden for weeks. I see energy and hope in her eyes. It shall surely be well with her.

Of course she is still suffering severe pains but nonetheless, she is feeling better. You, my ardent readers, made this a little bearable for me.

I have come to the conclusion that other than clinical observations and interventions, terminally ill patients and their families ought to find coping mechanisms that act as an emotional bulwark during these times.

It is not easy, but it can be done. One of those is to share and speak about the experiences. I did and I tell you what, it has helped me a lot. My problem stopped being my problem. It was a shared problem across the country and the world.

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In the hundreds of emails that I received, I found brotherhood, encouragement, hope, love, unity. They gave us an assurance and believe that something can be done about the situation, however dire. The hope that it is not all lost counts for more at times perhaps more than the cocktail of drugs. I realized that across all religions, hope in God and the power of prayer forms a strong pillar to conquer disease and infirmities. Healing is also emotionally driven. The feeling that someone else is praying for you and shares in your situation is very powerful.

After reading my column, thousands had us in thoughts and prayers. It worked miracles. It was like a heavy burden had been lifted off my shoulders.

I walked light, if you know what I mean. Many wanted to know how they could help. I couldn’t help but get overwhelmed.

Today, I will mention a few of them. I would love to mention everyone, but my Editor will not allow that. And if I have left anyone, it doesn’t mean that I don’t acknowledge your words of kindness, thought and prayer.

Take this column as a way of recognizing you. Mr Siddharth Chatterjee, the Resident Coordinator of UN Operations in Nairobi (a close friend) posted on his Twitter handle; “A story of courage, hope and determination in a difficult situation.”

Another close friend Dr Ganham Ramana, a health specialist at the World Bank regional office in Nairobi wrote: “I am shocked to hear the news about madam. I pray that God Almighty gives relief. I am sure your personal presence will help her a lot and my prayers and thoughts are with you.”

Yet another close friend, Dr Nazim Mita from UNICEF, Nairobi office, wrote: “Let me also add my prayers. My Allah bless you and madam. Allah gives and Allah knows best. You, Madam and your family are in our hearts, our thoughts our affection and our prayers.”

Mike Eldon, a renowned consultant shared his own experience as a prostate cancer survivor. He battled it with courage and hope.

There are many others like him whose stories uplift us and give us hope that we will get out of this. Many others like Anyonyi Musoka, Halligan Agade, Judith Miguda, Edith Wachira, Judith Dora Akolo, Abdullahi Boru, Titus Igania, Jarso Moku, Hon Joseph Samal, Rose Mwaura, and Fred Mugo wished us well.

Cancer has neither religion nor tribe; it has no class, and like any disease, it has no shame. It just keeps taking those we love from us; silently, slowly, painfully.

What I saw in the emails was an outpouring of humanity so pure, so true so caring. It taught me something; the fountain of love is true and exists. We can, we should all draw from it and give it out unconditionally. “As I read the column, I couldn’t hold back tears,” said my friend Thiribi Mwenda.

Even in London, my new home, I received solace from two special people; Imam Ali Nzimba and Imam Swaleh Mohamed from the Greenwich Mosque.

These two Kenyans not only gave us spiritual and moral support, they have, through their own ways, mobilised the Kenyan community in London to visit us and pray for us in hospital.

These reactions and many others from my readers have in many ways helped us cope with a heart-rending situation.

They have strengthened our resolve to not be intimidated by cancer. It has made me have hope in a new Kenya where there is genuine care and love for one another.

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