Shinyenze Khasoha was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when her mother was bedridden in hospital with a brain tumour
How was your childhood like?
I am a first born in a family of two. I was raised by my mother after she separated with my dad. That was in 2006. We relocated to Kangemi. Life was a bit tough since my mother did menial jobs to feed us. She was a tailor and also used to wash peoples’ clothes. Luckily, she landed a stable job and managed to take me to a good school.
Did you like the ghetto life?
Honestly, life in ghetto was good, we never slept hungry because there was always a service you could provide.
School life, how was it?
I joined State House Girls. Later, I went to USIU and my mother managed to pay my fee through Sacco, Chamas and bursaries. I didn’t disappoint her since I was a bright student.
Tell about your designs...
It all started in 2012 while in Campus. I wanted to be a model and I did a few gigs but my height was the challenge. I was short, but even those few gigs I did, I realised some of the designs I was showcasing were plain boring. I started creating pieces for myself and everyone used to ask where I got the pieces. In 2015, my fashion house Shinyenze Fashions was born. Though I studied Bachelor of Science in IBA Finance and Marketing, I realised I loved designing.
But you never graduated from school...
Yes. I was to graduate in 2017, but my mother fell sick. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor and it was discovered at a later stage. The tumor was cancerous. She used to suffer from severe headaches and used to take over the counter medicine. It was a hard for me, I had to take all the major roles in the house, my sister was in class seven. I paid school fees, rent and other bills.
At what point did you discover you had cancer?
It all started when I was at the age of 10. I had irregular periods and I would bleed for many days. When I sought medical attention, the doctor discovered I had an ovarian cyst and I was put on medication. However, the bleeding didn’t stop and I sought a second opinion.
That is when the doctor broke the news. I had a big tumor on my left ovary, which was cancerous. Further, my Fallopian tube and uterus were damaged. I was also told my blood levels were low. I was told my tumor had over grown and because of several misdiagnosis over the years, the tumor was now cancerous. They said my cancer was at early stage 2 and I had to start treatment immediately.
That must have been heartbreaking...
Yes. It was tough and financially straining. My mother was still in hospital. I began my treatment at MP Shah in June of 2018 and the whole of last year I was on chemotherapy. It has been really hard because I am the breadwinner in my family. I couldn’t afford to pay house rent and I defaulted for two months. The landlord kicked us out and we were homeless.
I also had close my business. We sold our household things just to get some money to pay rent for the new place. My mother requires Sh10,000 a week for treatment, her cancer is on remission. In January, I did some tests and I was told the tumors had dried, but I need to do more tests. My bill currently stands at Sh1.6 million and this has to be cleared before I start my new chemo.
It has been a tough road and sometimes I ask God why me. But I realise life is a gift. I have done a fundraiser with family and friends and I have exhausted my resources. I decided to tackle this situation a different way.
What do you mean?
Some people have donated sewing machines and I am making clothes to sale at discounted prices to pay my bills. I am working with 1,000 models on Shujaa Campaign and they will sale my T-shirts for Sh1,000 each. People can also reach me on my social media Shinyenze Fashions page or shinyenze.co.ke to purchase my items.
I want ladies to know if you have irregular periods go get checked, we should not ignore small things. Further, I would like to encourage other cancer patients to be strong. Anytime you hear someone is going through a cancer journey, please give them your time.