Breaking the Curse
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Poverty, cultural barriers and limited medical options make it hard for breast cancer patients in developing nations to get the help they need. Meet one woman who beat the odds.
As told to Denis Gathanju
Building A New Life
But through the love of my family, I found hope again. Once I regained my strength, Mary and Peter offered to relocate me anywhere I wanted. The city of Nakuru, far from my old village, seemed like a good place to make a fresh start. Then they generously paid rent on a one-room house, bought me some household supplies and helped me set up a small fruit and vegetable stand. They even sent for Stephen and Gilbert and looked after them until I could support them financially.
Today Iím busy running my business and raising my boys, now 12 and 9. Once a month, I attend the clinic at Nakuruís Rift Valley General Hospital, where I get checkups and talk to other women about my experience. But though people are less superstitious in the city, I still donít tell many people about my cancer.
I hear that my husband has remarried and plans to start a family with his new wife. Neither my sons nor I can ever see him again. I still love him, but I understand that he has moved on. A couple of widowed men have said they would be willing to marry me, so one day I may be moving on, too. For now, my goal is to live long enough to be called a grandmother. I no longer feel cursed; I feel lucky and hopeful.
The Kenya Breast Health Programme, a nonprofit organization founded in 1999 by a cancer survivor, is slowly working to change public perception and reduce the mortality rate in the country through advocacy and education. Learn more about them at KenyaBreast.org.
The Kenya Medical Research Institute is seeking funding for a proposed study of the epidemiology of cancer in western Kenya. Further information was not available at press time, but we will offer an update in a future issue.