By JOWIT SALUSEKI-
A female breast cancer survival has urged both men and women to regularly go for cancer screening.
The cancer survivor also appealed to Government to ensure that cancer drugs are in constant supply in the health facilities.
Breast cancer patient Nyemba Mwalukanga of Lusaka urged both men and women to take advantage of the hospitals and clinics available to undergo screening.
Ms Mwalunkanga had just completed radiotherapy treatment.
“Just like you, I had a life which I call ‘a before cancer life’ and now, I’m living my after cancer life. Two people may have the same diagnosis, but the response to treatment may be different. The way we live, feel, the people surrounding us creates the outcome,” she said.
Ms Mwalukanga was diagnosed with breast cancer stage two high grade (curative) and had a mastectomy, a medical procedure that involved removal of her left breast in June 2020.
She needed eight cycles of adjuvant chemotherapy (four cycles doxorubicin plus cyclophosphamide and four cycles of paclitaxel) which she could not get from Cancer Diseases Hospital (CDH) in Lusaka.
“My family and friends had to raise money to order the drugs and 21 boosters (injectables) from India. The administering of chemotherapy was done at Fairview Hospital in Lusaka every 21 days with three booster injections to follow,” she said.
Ms Mwalukanga said she did not lose weight, but she became completely bald after losing her hair.
Her finger nails, palms, bottom of her feet and tongue were black due to the chemotherapy drugs which were very strong.
“I thought that after the completion of the chemotherapy, the financial component would now be lighter as I would have radiotherapy done at Cancer Diseases Hospital,” Ms Mwalukanga said.
She said she waited for four months in vain, but the Lusaka based facility kept telling her that the radiotherapy machine was being fixed, that the hospital was just waiting for spares.
“My sister suggested that we create GoFund Me platform. Initially, I did not want to go through such a platform as I felt ashamed asking for money from people. This is the platform that was created to raise the money required for the radiotheraphy treatment in South Africa at Netcare Olivedale Hospital,” she said.
Ms Mwalukanga was full of praise to God and everyone who made it possible for her timely evacuation to South Africa for medical treatment.
She said the radiotherapy had been completed but had left minor bruises on her neck and back and some sores on the throat, making it difficult for her to swallow.
“Otherwise we await for the review which will be done at Cancer Diseases Hospital. During this journey, I made friends who were walking the same path as me. I have lost many of them. I cannot mention their names here but may their souls rest in peace,” she said.
Ms Mwalukanga said her journey to recovery had been difficult and emotionally draining.
She appealed to the Government to make chemotherphy, and other drugs such as Tamoxicen available for cancer patients.
She said there was no need for people to lose lives because cancer was treatable if the treatment process was not interrupted.
She said the radiotherapy machine was also critical because it eradicates any tumour deposits remaining following surgery or shrunk tumours and reduced the risk of locoregional recurrence.
She said the machine also improved overall survival.
Ms Mwalukanga lamented that currently, the radiotherapy waiting list was very long at CDH which was the only health institution providing this service.
“Patients have been waiting for this treatment from last year. I urge you all, both men and women, to have yourselves checked up for breast cancer,” Ms Mwalukanga said.
Brèast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among Non-Communicable Diseases (NDCs).
But when detected early, breast cancer can be treated.