Every day may not be good but there is something good in every day
For a layman or “Wanjiku”, if you may, when we are faced with medical challenges we let the experts (doctor) tell us what to do. Then there are some of us who opt for “dr.google”. Joyce belongs to the former group who prefer not to self diagnose or self medicate. This stood her well as you will see from her story below.
In 2014, Joyce noticed some discharge from her right breast and straight away decided to have herself checked as she knew that was normal owing to the nature of her job. Joyce is a medic and works at a government-run lab. Her workday entails taking of human samples and running tests on them before writing a detailed report on her findings.
She however just thought to herself that it would be a bacterial infection and nothing serious. When the results came back, they confirmed that she had nothing to worry about but she went ahead and made plans to have a mammogram done yearly. This was towards the end of 2014. Days turned into months and months into years when one day towards the end of 2018, Joyce felt a lump in her right breast. When she had her checkup done earlier in the year, all seemed well, and yet here she was now, wondering what the lump would be. From her knowledge as a medic and from reading various articles and reports, she knew that something was definitely wrong and fear started creeping in. She started to question herself about what she would do. She was not sure how she would handle the news if her fears were true.
Early in 2019 she began to experience numbness in her right hand and had several tests done with the results being that she had breast cancer Stage 2. She was scared and wondered if there was anything she would have done differently or if she should have taken action earlier, then maybe the results would have been different. However, Joyce says she was fortunate to be in a position to start her treatment early since she knew who to talk to and where to seek assistance. She also had a medical cover provided by her employer that took care of her medical expenses and requirements. Her doctor put her on chemotherapy treatment and started her on Herceptin hormonal treatment and later in the year she had a mastectomy.
Joyce recounts that with everything happening so fast and with the changes that followed once treatment begun like loss of hair, darkening of finger and toenails, craving for bitter and sour things, she drew her strength from other victors that she met during her hospital trips. She says that she saw herself as being lucky and this made her a source of strength for her family members who were still coming to terms with what was happening. Joyce remembers waking up early to prepare snacks that she would share with her “friends” during her hospital visits. While at the hospital, she met people who struggled to have a decent meal or any meal at all considering they were required to receive treatment. Some could just not afford it as they had to make a choice between paying for their treatment or transport to and from their homes. This moved Joyce and she took it upon herself to assist where she could.
Joyce completed her radiotherapy treatment in February of 2020. She says after the radiotherapy she experienced fatigue and body weakness but she is now better. She attended clinics every 3 weeks and has taken on exercising. Joyce still goes to work and celebrates every new day.
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