As I sat at the back of the cold room, I could not help but notice Caroline Adeka* brightly coloured red high heels. Her light skin complexion was a complete contrast to her very dark hair, plaited and held in one knot at the back of her head.
It was suddenly when a hymn came on that her eyes became watery. Soon she could not help herself anymore, and broke down into uncontrollable sobs as the song hits its climax.
A white handkerchief stuffed readily in her right hand could not wipe all her tears. Another lady distributing purple silk scarfs came to her aid and she sunk her face in her bosom. She was patient and let her cry uncontrollably as she rubbed her back soothingly.
They did not say a word to each other, but it was evident they understood each other’s pain. The pain of surviving cancer.
On Saturday June 2, a group of cancer survivors gathered at Citam Valley Road church to officially launch an organisation that will be monitoring their progress.
The organisation, Cancer Survivors Association(CSA) was informed by the lack of psycho-social support the cancer survivors need after a series of ‘torture like’ treatment procedures that leaves them not only famished emotionally, but also financially and health wise.
The association was officially registered in September last year after operating for years as a support group formed alumni of Aga Khan Hospital one of them being Prisca Wanjiru, the chair.
“We want to be a testimony to those with cancer that it is not a death sentence. We had cancer but cancer never had us,” said Wanjiru.
Wanjiru said it has become apparent on how many cancer survivors are being misused by organisations that would go to an extent soliciting money.
“At one function, some survivors were made to stand up and paraded and some organisation claimed that they had benefited from their programmes,” she remarked.
Wanjiru, who is a breast cancer survivor herself, said one of the priorities of the association is to advocate for medical expenses.
“In my case, I remember one time my daughter bit off my prosthesis breast. To replace it its Sh5,000. Such things do not come easy to cancer survivors,” she said.
Other issues that will be advocated by the association is access to check-ups on a yearly basis and NHIF coverage.