Elisha Yogo flips through the day’s newspaper at his duty station, Oljororok Police Station in Nyandarua County.
The 58-year-old police officer may be trying to catch up with local and international headlines, but he also has a personal story to tell about his battle with cancer of the colon.
Although he is optimistic that he will soon go into remission, the journey has not been easy.
The officer is among those who were celebrated during the National Cancer Survivors Day held yesterday for sensitising locals on cancer and providing psycho-social support to patients suffering from the disease, a mission he started after being diagnosed with cancer in 2017.
Yogo’s problem began in 2012. At first, it seemed like ordinary stomach and abdominal pains, and he would buy painkillers on counters but the pain got severe, forcing him to seek treatment.
A doctor at a private health facility where he went for examination told him that his small intestines had “folded”, leading to abdominal pain, vomiting and bloating.
Stage 2 cancer
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The treatment, however, was wrong. In 2017, he went for a check-up at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), where he was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer of the colon.
“I received the news with profound shock. I thought I would have been malaria because of fever and sweating. But gradually, through interaction with other survivors, I learnt to live positively,” he said.
He was referred to Nairobi West Hospital where he underwent an operation (stoma) and later placed on 12 chemotherapy sessions.
The operation entailed creating a bypass to avoid obstruction caused by the tumour for smooth flow of waste. The operation required use of colostomy bags.
At first, using colostomy bags was a tall order for him. But after counselling, he accepted his condition and currently uses about two bags a day.
At the station, he encourages people to undergo regular cancer screening. He uses colostomy bags to sensitise locals.
“I wear colostomy bag with pride at my work station to sensitise the society on cancer,” he said. “Fighting cancer is everyone’s duty.”
He has successfully undertaken the chemotherapy sessions and goes for monthly check-ups at KNH and palliative care at the Nakuru Hospice.
He is optimistically waiting for remission.