As the door to the operation theatre slummed shut on *Jane, I could feel the devastation in her world. The world outside had shut its doors. Her sun was setting. Setting to allow a sky dark as soot to take charge. No twinkling night stars. Even if there would be a few of them, the tears in her eyes would not let her see them. A daughter. A sister. A mother of three. To some of us a patient. To our leaders in healthcare and country at large another statistic.
Cancer can be devastating.
Luckily for majority of us, we only view it as ‘that’ disease for ‘those people.’ We empathize. That’s enough.
The story of Jane is not unique. It can be told by 18,000 Kenyans who lose their lives annually to cancer. In prelude to this slow and painful death, is a period of waiting. Waiting to die. Sure that with every sunset comes a sunrise that would bring about more cancer cells, more misery and more pain. No tears though, just fears. Tears had dried. Though the eyes still be liquid and blue as the ocean.
Have you ever been in a choking sob yet remain tear less? Good.
Fear of leaving behind your loved ones, mostly children because you see, the big books say this ‘thing’ has a strong genetic predisposition. One of them might get it. Or their grandchildren. The path however remains the same as the powers that be meet in five star hotels to discus how well to slay this dragon.
She was diagnosed with a near end stage cancer of the oesophagus. Her swallowing became increasingly difficult and at the time she finally referred herself to our institution, she could only swallow saliva and suchlike liquids. She first appeared to us with the facial bones showing and the cloak on her body barely hanging, yet one could easily predict what a smashing beauty she had been before her date with fate. Only responding to questions asked as if trying to hide the stinking darkness of the cave of her mouth.
" I would like to be able to swallow again" she mumbled.
So many wrongs came at play to land us here. A broken healthcare system summing it up aptly once again. With barely enough rations allocated by the “holder of the yam and the knife,” healthcare system would be lucky to manage basic ailments. I will not mention that the ultimate leaders assigned to head the health docket are just politicians with no background on the contents. That I cannot mention. You see, I am a small man.
Our lopsided priorities in terms of what we allocate to keep us alive vis-a –vis what we allocate to make our country look beautiful will never haunt us. Do you get my drift? Well, while Jane will die alone to her desolate village in Mariakani, the Super highway will remain for our peers to see. Uganda will marvel “Have you seen how Kenya is developed?” and Botswana will die of envy. Green eyed. I am laughing at our very jealous neighbors.
A few people will gather by her final hole. A cloaked priest perhaps And a small ritual chanted. As she stops to breath because ‘her’ money was used to upgrade a highway to a superhighway, excuses will be given again to win this argument. Well. Cool.
And another multi-billion project will be started viciously; to set up a silicon Savannah even before a post mortem is performed by the worms of the soil. Before her children drop out of school.
A carcass fit for hounds.
How much would it cost to set up cancer wings complete with radiotherapy machines in at least half of our 47 counties? Well maybe we only need one such center and we already have it at the main referral hospital .A population of 40 million people.
Let us pray. Prayers are free.
#dedicated to the many patients who missed out on the endoscopy camp this week because they could not afford to purchase Celestin tubes or stents.