From: joachim omolo ouko
News Dispatch with Father Omolo Beste
FRIDAY, APRIL 4, 2014
Cancer is becoming a burden the country can hardly bear. Rev Fr Gradus Ochieng battled with it, finally he had to die. This year alone the number of Kenyans who have died of cancer is numerous. Veteran journalist Jerry Okungo died from it. Kenya-based BBC broadcast journalist Anne Waithera died of it at the age of 39 in a Nairobi hospital. She had been battling cancer for the past two years.
The next patient to die from cancer this year is Brenda Ochieng, beloved wife to Mr Michael Ochieng. Brenda was diagnosed with leukaemia in March last year. She was put on medication and has been in and out of hospital since.
Brenda’s ailment is the latest in a family that has been devastated by cancer since 1972, when her grandfather, William Wamunga, died of bone cancer at Kakamega General Hospital. In 1986, Mzee Wamunga’s second eldest son Hazron (Brenda’s uncle) was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Economically, footing chemotherapy bills has supped many of families’ finances and investments, yet chemotherapy is the only hope for those already suffering from cancer. In Kenya it is estimated that 2000 people die of cancer daily.
It demonstrates a situation which should by now be declared a national disaster. The rating is higher than deaths caused by road accidents or HIV and Aids. Between 2000 and 2006, the Nairobi Cancer Registry recorded 10,484 cases of cancer in both men and women.
The statistics also show that many catholic nuns are dying of the cancer of breast; uterus and endometrial problems which doctors say are the main diseases of the nuns. The doctors recommend that nuns like other women should go for frequent check ups.
Just as breast and cervical cancer are alarmingly prevalent among women, prostate is slowly becoming men’s main killer decease. Like nuns, doctors recommend that priests should also go for frequent check ups.
Many doctors are associating cancer to lifestyle. Some of the reasons as to why there is a high prevalence of cancer cases as; many sexual partners, early sex debuts, use of contraceptives and staying too long without having a child in the case of women.
Among the many types of cancers, the greatest killer of Kenyan women today, is cancer of the cervix according to doctors despite being vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) that causes cancer of the cervix; one can still get it if they indulge in irresponsible sex.
Even though one qualifies to be vaccinated against HPV virus, there are many other factors that cause cancer of the cervix. HPV virus can be passed from mother to child during delivery. It can also be passed from one spouse to another since it is sexually transmitted.
That is why it is important that people are educated about HPV vaccine. Doctors say most cancers of the cervix can be prevented if women have Pap smear tests regularly. Today even children are suffering from the disease.
The reason why children are also dying of cancer is because lactating mothers are taking contraceptives that are passed on to children through breast milk. That is also why women are advised to avoid contraceptives as possible.
Doctors say that cancer is a disease of the cell. The cells grow out of control and change in the genetic make-up. They look and function differently from the normal ones and can spread to other parts of the body. Some cells in any organ can become abnormal.
Doctors cite some of the factors that can predispose one to cancer as smoking, alcohol and chewing harmful substances like miraa, (khat) industrial toxins, obesity, lack of regular exercises and pollution. Many nutritionists blame poor diet and lifestyle. Lifestyle is one of the major contributors to cancer.
Unlike in 1960s when cancer was a rare case, today because we live in a world where technology has taken over everything like refrigerators, microwaves and refined foods that have low nutritional value, is why cancers is spreading faster than ever been before.
For instance microwaving food stored in polythene bags produces so many carcinogens that lead to any form of cancer. The accumulations of additives, sugars and fats from preserved food stores toxins in our bodies that pile up and eventually lead to cancer.
Since nutrition contributes a lot to brain development, if a child is not given proper nutrition the brain development and learning is very low. Nutrition can never be treated totally if a child does not have good nutrition in the first five years of its life.
Even though clinical management of cancer requires a multidisciplinary team consisting of medical oncologists, surgeons and surgical oncologists, radiotherapists, pathologists, radiologists, oncology nurses, counselors, and palliative care specialists, among others, Kenya lacks enough oncologists due to high cost of training.
Yet, the few trained Kenyatta National Hospital medical physicians responsible for cancer treatment are overwhelmed by the workload due to the rising number of cancer patients in the country. Again, that all of the oncology specialists in Kenya are located in Nairobi, it is making it almost impossible for the largest number of the population to access their services.
Since cancer symptoms show at a snails pace, it is why many die without ever knowing they had the disease. That is why having routine medical screenings is one way to safeguard ones health and detect early symptoms of cancer development.
Fr Joachim Omolo Ouko, AJ
Tel +254 7350 14559/+254 722 623 578