I was navigating content online and realized it’s WORLD CANCER DAY. Didn’t know until today, did you? Well being a day dedicated to getting the world thinking and taking action against cancer; I thought I’d pen down my thoughts and experience as contribution to the awareness cause. Many a time we look at these campaigns and the charities and victims asking for help and well, sympathize with them, type a “sorry,” create the “Help*Insert name*” hash tags, many of us go ahead to offer the help we can and thousands of us have showed up each year for Rotary’s Cancer Runs. Great. All these are noble things to do and it’s comforting, reserves a little hope for humanity.
However, we forget the one thing that we should have done a long time ago and must keep doing. The screening. Last year late October while I alighted a Kigali-Kampala bus from a great Rotaract experience in the 250, I felt a heaviness in my right breast. Almost like when you have 2 shirt pockets and one is laden with keys and coins and ID while the other is empty. (The gentlemen especially relate) I thought well, fatigue, my body needs rest..and brushed it off, went about my normal business…it was all great except for a “hangover” from an awesome trip till when I woke up the next day, I had excruciating pain and a swelling. Then is when I thought my life had come to a halt. It is true what they say that you don’t really know the magnitude of a situation until you’re experiencing it first hand. I panicked and yet I had to keep it together and not go completely crazy if not from this piercing pain, then from the gazillion thoughts in my head. I had to keep a straight face, say good morning to everyone when I got out of my room, sit in the car with my dad and laugh at his jokes (they’re really funny by the way) because it was one of those days when I hitch a ride with him to town but couldn’t tell him anything yet. Yep, don’t know why either…I guess I didn’t want to worry him just yet. I had to get to work, act normal and take care of things because my boss was not around and was counting on me to “handle things” here. So yeah, pain, a maze of thoughts going through my mind and not a soul knew. Eventually I spoke to Joanne in the evening while we left town for home (she has a solution for or she is the solution to everything that girl) So even for this she did have one. She set up a physical check appointment for the next day and went with me to it the next day until it was done. The lady after checking said she had to refer me to another more-specialized-to-handle-such-cases doctor in Mengo Hospital. She kept saying to not worry and “it’s going to be ok,” “most likely nothing” but you and I know at that point you don’t believe any of that pep talk. In your head, your life is doomed. Gone. The beginning of the end.
It is that night that I made the reveal to my parents. They said it would be okay in my face but when I passed by their room as I went to bed I heard them talking in muffled voices. Ps. I was not eavesdropping but come on: they couldn’t fool me. I thought to myself, I know y’all are freaking out too. Jheez! I can’t tell you how many things I told God that night; proper detailed conversation; and those who know me know that I can go on and on if I decide to. Been labeled story teller by someone I know…so yes. My dreams, my plans, my family…we spoke about everything. How if this was what I thought it was my purpose would have to be stalled or not completed at all. Why it had to be me. What my faith was being tested for. I barely slept as you might imagine.
The good…..*scratch that* great news is my appointment with Doctor Andrew of Mengo Hospital went well and I did not/do not have breast cancer but just a swelling that had to be cleared by a minor surgery. Even greater news is that the surgery went well and right now the incision that was made is unrecognizable; bless you Dr! So I was lucky. Or I’m blessed. Everything went well, it’s a story that turned out with a fairy-tale ending: but in the moments when it was still unknown to me what exactly was wrong with my breast, I thought about all the times I sympathized with patients and gave contributions. I thought about the numerous free breast cancer screening drives that I’d, some of them coordinated. The times I was on the Cancer Run publicity team and how many times I tweeted with hashtags that people should go get screened…and yet never once before had I myself gone myself to get it done. I don’t know what it is that keeps us from getting some crucial things such as these done….”laziness”….we don’t “find time” we’re “too busy” but I know one thing; had I gone for a breast cancer screening earlier, if it had turned out that I had there cancer cells I would have known earlier and I would have probably been saved. Now at a later point when I had pain and swelling; I don’t know. Probably would have been a different story. A tragic one. Ladies and gentlemen, go get cancer screening now and while at it; tell a friend to tell a friend and another friend. We can do this.