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"Life is too short to waste it begging"

Ivy Keziah                                                                            Photo: Denish Ochieng

After Ivy Keziah had her right leg amputated while a class four pupil, she determined the disability was not going to keep her from achieving her dreams. She shares her experience with us.

I am a trained journalist and worked as a news producer at Urban Radio for a year, and had a short stint as an intern at Radio Sahara. I shifted to online writing which I have practised for more than a year now.

I am also an amputee after I was found to have stage four bone cancer in 2001 while a class four pupil. The discovery cast a dark shadow on what was once a life brimming with promise, it took me a long time to rise above it.

The cancer was discovered during treatment of my leg that had fractured twice. It was during the second treatment that doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital noticed something unusual. The thigh bone made a curve which caused friction between it and the knee bone.

After a few operations, the doctors finally diagnosed Osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and I was told I had cancer on my right leg which had spread very fast. It was already on the last stage and my leg had to be amputated immediately.

I did not even have the chance to digest the new revelation that I was never going to walk with both legs again before I was wheeled in for surgery. When I came to, I was like a person reborn into someone I did not want to be. While I was relieved that the cancer had been contained and felt alright physically, I was an emotional mess.

I developed low self-esteem and this really affected my school performance. I’d had my leg chopped off from the hip and had to wear a prosthetic leg but because I wore long school uniforms and trousers, none of my peers noticed.

I stopped wearing the artificial leg a few weeks to sitting for my KCPE. That is when I learned to love myself and my performance improved drastically.

Photo: Denish Ochieng

This was brought on by a remark from my math teacher who was not impressed by my tendency to skip classes and failure to do my homework. The teacher told me, in front of the whole class — some who had no idea that I was an amputee, that its my leg and not my head that was chopped off.

His words, although harsh, jolted me to the realization that this condition did not stop me from being who I wanted to be. It was then I embraced the use of clutches and continue to use them to date.

After completing high school, life was really tough for my family and I had to look for work to help support us. I got a job as an M-Pesa attendant and used the savings to kick start my higher education at Maseno University where I studied Diploma in Communication and Media Technology with IT.

I continued struggling to raise my tuition fee but I received support from a friend in Australia and from my parents. Unfortunately once done with my studies, I realised the journalism I had in mind, is not what I found it to be in practise.

That is when I shifted gears to online writing, which I do on a part time basis, and farming. I have more than 50 Kroiler chicken and can say I am my own boss. I find satisfaction in the job I do — it is stress free.

One thing I have learned through my life’s experience is that it is our attitude that determines who we end up being in life.

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