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My husband, church dumped me when I got cancer

By Graham Kajilwa | July 27th 2018 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Cancer sufferer Millicent Kagonga at her house at Kariobangi. ON 19/07/2018. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

At age 13, she had her first child, a son. Three years later she had a second one and at 20, her third child, a girl now nine years old, arrived.

This was the teenage life of Millicent Kagonga, a cervical cancer survivor.

She claimed the disease cost her her marriage and got her thrown out of church.

She welcomed us to her one-room mabati house in Kariobangi, then went to lie on the bed. It squeaked as she tried to find a comfortable position on the old mattress.

“I am sorry, one of you will have to sit on the water jerrycan. It is empty. We have not had water for three days,” she said, smiling.

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The life of the 29-year-old, who has never set foot in a secondary school, has been a series of bad luck.

She said she started feeling ill when she was 20 and her husband left. She has not seen him again. She later heard that he had re-married.

She said her illness had reduced her to begging as she has to live on handouts.

“I cannot sit in a chair. My back hurts and I bleed,” she says.

Ms Kagonga's last check-up showed that she had no cancer cells, but she has little to celebrate. Her cancer treatment, which involved 25 sessions of radiotherapy, has left her barren.

“That is what the doctor told me. I do not have periods. It is as if my ovaries just dried up. That is why I have added weight. I was not this heavy,” she said, trying to laugh.

She said her bleeding turned off her husband. She moved upcountry with her children, but life in the village in Vihiga County became unbearable because of stigma. She said many people said she was going to die because her disease was incurable, so she came back to Nairobi to live with her brother.

"People said I was cursed. I used to bleed a lot and I was always sitting on a bucket," she recalled.

She turned to the church for help. She was not that religious at the time, so she joined the nearest church, which was located along Jogoo Road. She would even volunteer to clean the church to find favour before her maker.

“When the pastor learnt that I was bleeding, he wanted nothing to do with me. I was thrown out,” she said.

Raised funds

Kagonga said a woman she used to clean for raised funds for her treatment and introduced her to a local organisation that caters for cancer patients. The woman also helped her get a school for her two children – her son in Standard Eight and her daughter in Standard Four. One son died in childhood.

Kagonga said her daughter needed an operation to treat her thyroid gland.

"I would not wish what I have suffered on anyone. Life has been painful, but I want to hold on to see my children succeed," she said.


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