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I had two choices: Kill my son, or my cancer

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It was nothing, she would tell herself, touching the small dry patch below her right breast as she took in her reflection in the mirror.

She was a woman truly in tune with her body and she felt sure that the only unusual thing about it then was the little bubba growing inside her.

Yes, she was pregnant. It was the best news she had heard in a while. And in that one moment, cradling her barely-there pregnant belly, she realised that life was great. A baby; her baby, was everything she had ever wanted. In that space in time in her 31 years of existence, she felt truly happy.

But now and then, call it a woman’s intuition, as weeks sped by, when Edith Ndegwa stood in front of the mirror, she would lift her glance from her burgeoning belly to the area near her breast. The dry patch was growing.“For a second, I would get panicked. Wonder if it was cancer, but just as fast, I would dismiss the thought. It was painless after all, and I had never experienced any other symptoms anyway,” she told My Health.

This was in 2019, and she was only one month pregnant.Days turned into months. Morning sickness was ebbing away and Edith spent many precious minutes enjoying the little flutters of life in her womb.“It was an active baby. I would feel so much love wash over me whenever I felt the little movements.”

By then, she had already forgotten about the little patch; until around the three-month mark when she checked to see if it had gone away. Well, it hadn’t.Deny, deny and pray you are right“I now had what looked like an insect bite. I hoped that it would go away so I didn’t have to worry. But then the spot got itchy,” she says.

The itch was persistent. No amount of moisturising the skin would take it away. What, however, jarred her into action was that the breast began to discolour.

“Sometimes it would get darker than the left one and other times I would notice a yellowish tinge. It was then I thought that I should see a doctor about it. If for nothing else, to just allay my fears.”At the hospital, she was informed to just manage the itch as they couldn’t give her medication when pregnant.But still, during her antenatal clinics, she would bring up the offending breast and they would check it and send her on her way.It was only at the six-month mark that the doctors told her that she may indeed have breast cancer.They looked sure about the diagnosis.

“They told me that I should terminate the pregnancy to begin my treatment immediately.”This was news that Edith was not ready for. And the one thing she absolutely knew was that she was going to be a mother; cancer or no cancer. Her doctors, however, seemed really worried. “No way I was losing my baby. I was 31. This meant that I really did not have many childbearing years ahead of me. And I was still hopeful the doctors were wrong,” she explained.

At this point, a wound had developed on her breast and it was swollen. But the fact that a few of her friends told her that cancer didn’t present itself the way it appeared on her breast further bolstered her resolve to delay treatment. Other friends would tell her not to go to the hospital as they would cut it off.

Was she worried that delaying treatment would reduce her chances of survival?“I was not worried at all about delayed treatment. At the back of my mind, I was still trying to convince myself that this wasn’t cancer.”One morning at eight months of pregnancy, she woke up to find that her swollen breast had ruptured into two sections at the point there had been a wound.

“I was scared. But I was not going to let the wound stop me from having my child. I decided to take care of my wound. I was going to delay dealing with whatever was happening to give my child as much time in the womb as possible.”Somehow, the wound healed and closed up again.“I knew I needed help. But I needed to give my growing child a chance. I wanted a full-term pregnancy.

At 41 weeks, Edith checked herself into hospital ready to have her baby. She gave birth via C-section to a beautiful baby boy weighing 3.9 kg. Baby Ethan Ndegwa was in perfect health too.

Edith with one-year-old son Ethan. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

“He was so perfect. He distracted me from the excruciating pain I was feeling on my right breast.”The moment the baby was born, Emily was hit by the enormity of what was happening.“I now had a baby, and possibly cancer. The baby had survived. Would I?”Her right breast was now oozing milk and blood. She could only breastfeed him on her left breast.“Eventually I had to give him formulae and sensing the urgency on my doctor’s face about dealing with my breast, it was action time.”However, her CS wound had to heal first. And this took a month.

“I now wanted to live for my precious boy. I spent most of the month reading up about cancer. A part of me still didn’t think I had cancer.”This is despite the fact that now she could feel a lump in her breast.  When the baby was two months old, she packed up for the hospital with her son. She was now ready.The doctors suggested a test on the tissue cells of the wound. Two weeks later, she got the results.

“I had stage 3 cancer. I remember crying as I held on to my son. I was angry. And for a crazy moment, contemplated suicide, but looked at my crying son and caught myself. I guess I shouldn’t have been too shocked as I have a family history of cancer. An aunt and two cousins have battled cancer.”

Treatment soon began with a scan showing that the lungs were also affected and that she was now at stage 4. The doctors informed her that she has little time to live and that surgery was out of the question.

“They said that they would only operate to control the bleeding in my breast.”

She was also informed that she would start on chemotherapy to reduce the swelling and make her life more comfortable.I then moved in with my aunt who also hired a nanny for me as I concentrated on getting better as I began my chemotherapy treatment.

Looking up

Brenda has gone through her chemotherapy treatments and has been responding well to it.

“The swelling in my breast disappeared and by the time I was doing my fifth chemotherapy session, the hair began growing back. Four months ago, a scan revealed that there was no cancer in her breasts, but still had traces of cancer cells in her lungs. And so she was put on Herceptin treatment. This is an immune targeted treatment meant to prevent recurrence of breast cancer or to treat breast cancer that has spread beyond the breast.

“I am taking it a day at a time and hoping for the best that life can give me. Hopefully, my June checkup comes up clean. Ethan is now one and I am grateful to be here with him”.


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Health

Shock as man ‘resurrects’ in a Kericho mortuary

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There was drama at Kapkatet sub-county hospital in Kericho on Tuesday night when a 32-year-old man who had been presumed dead and taken to the mortuary regained consciousness close to three hours later.

Mortuary attendants were getting ready to embalm Peter Kigen’s body when they noticed some movements.

Kigen, a resident of Kibwastuiyo village in Bureti Constituency, is said to have collapsed while at home before his family took him to hospital.

His younger brother, Kevin Kipkurui, said he was present when Kigen collapsed. With the help of their cousin, they took Kigen to the hospital at 5.30 pm.

“When we arrived at the casualty department, we met a doctor who asked us to register the details of the patient at the reception while he attended to him,” Kipkurui, who was still in shock, told The Standard.

After registering the patient, Kipkurui said he was again asked to the National Hospital Insurance Fund desk for further documentation of his brother.

Kigen reportedly suffers from a chronic illness.

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“When I went back to the casualty department at around 7.45 pm, I learnt my brother was dead. A nurse told me that he died long before we arrived at the hospital,” Kipkurui said.

He added: “The nurse later handed me a document to take to the mortuary attendant before my brother’s body was moved to the morgue.”

However, at 10.30 pm, Kipkuriu said, as they were waiting for embalming of Kigen’s body, they were informed that in fact, he was not dead.

Mortuary attendants who mummified the body told them that Kigen had regained consciousness.

“The mortician called me into the morgue and we saw him make movements. We were shocked. We could not understand how they could move a person who is still alive into the mortuary,” Kipkurui said.

Kigen, who spoke from his hospital bed yesterday, said he was shocked to learn that he was thought to have died and even taken to the mortuary.

“I cannot believe what just happened. How did they establish that I was dead?” he said.

Kirui, who donned his light-blue hospital uniform, was nevertheless happy to be alive and vowed to dedicate his life to evangelism once he’s discharged from hospital.

“I did not even know where I was when I regained consciousness, but I thank God for sparing my life. I will serve him for the rest of my life,” he said.

The hospital’s medical superintendent Gilbert Cheruiyot said Kigen was in critical condition when he was brought in.

Dr Cheruiyot said: “His relatives presumed he was dead and did not even wait for certification of death. They moved him to the mortuary, on their own.”

He said the clinical officers at the casualty were busy attending to other critically ill patients when Kigen was brought in, including an epileptic and a diabetic patient.

“They asked Kigen’s relatives to give them some time but they accused the clinicians of taking too much time and decided to take him to the mortuary. It was while the mortician was getting ready to embalm his body that she noticed some signs of life,” said Cheruiyot. He said the mortician informed the team at the casualty department which took Kigen back and begun resuscitating him. The process took three hours before the patient was stabilised.

“The patient was later taken to the ward and is responding well to treatment. We hope to discharge him in a few days,” Dr Cheruiyot said yesterday.

He added: “I advise those bringing their loved ones to the hospital to follow the laid down regulations. Before a body is moved the mortuary, it has to be certified by a clinician. In Kigen’s case, we can only say he was lucky, especially because of our qualified mortician who checked him before making any move,” said Cheruiyot.

The bizarre incident saw local MCAs, led by the Majority Leader Hezron Kipngeno, storm the hospital. This is after Chelanget MCA Hezborn Tonui demanded a statement from the heath committee over the incident that shocked the county.


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Health

Janet Mbugua shares her Covid-19 scare

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Media personality Janet Mbugua has shared the tale of the time she faced a scare as thought she had contracted Covid-19 last month.

In a video she shared on Instagram, the former Citizen tv news anchor said she experienced Covid-19 symptoms which escalated quite quickly.

The video shows her being taken through the nasal swab test for Covid-19, which is known to very uncomfortable.

Luckily, the result for the mother of two came back negative.

Janet Mbugua said that her scary experience motivated her to fight the fear and stigma related to Coronavirus, and will use her platform to advocate for a vaccine.

This comes as Covid-19 cases continue to rise sharply in Kenya amid a rush by various pharmaceutical companies globally to come up with an effective vaccine.

By NN


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Health

Comedian Flaqo opens up on rare condition he has been battling

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Popular Kenyan comedian, Flaqo born Erastus Ayieko Otieno has for the first time spoken about a rare condition that he has been struggling with for some time.

Turns out that despite the funny man the Kenyan audience and beyond has grown to know as Flaqo Raz, he has his fair share of battles behind the cameras.

Flaqo opens up

The Internet sensation shared a photo showing red, itchy welts like a form of skin reaction on certain parts of his body.

Depending on the reactions, the welts appear and fade repeatedly and vary in size.

The YouTuber shared his condition with fans in the hope that maybe one or two can relate to what he has been going through and maybe work out a solution on the same.

“Anyone with this condition, how do you go about it?” he posed.

Comedian Flaqo rare skin condition

“Sometimes I have to postpone my shoots because they are unbearable. Zangu zilipotea for 6 months straight. Now they are back…” he replied to a fan who shared a similar experience.

Funny enough, soon as he had put up the post, he got so much feedback, with so many individuals able to relate to his skin condition, to his amazement.

“So far: try staying in the sun for a bit, bathe with warm water after taking antihistamines. To understand your condition better, make a point of seeing a dermatologist,” Flaqo shared with fans battling a similar condition, after gathering responses from his fan base.

Wrapping up urging fellow victims to take plenty of water, work out more often and avoid proteins since hives get triggered by things like particular foods, medication and stress.

By Ghafla.com


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