Apart from robbing families of their loved ones, cancer has impoverished many households due to the heavy cost of treatment.
Florence Kitsao’s family has endured it all while seeking funds to cater for her mother, Juliana Mwenda, who was suffering from cancer of the oesophagus. In 2012, they needed Sh2 million for her treatment and efforts to reach out to well-wishers bore no fruit. It is during this time that she contemplated selling her kidney to raise money and repay part of the accrued debt they had incurred during treatment. The situation had become so desperate for Ms Kitsao that she even attempted to commit suicide twice, owing to threats by financial institutions to take legal action against her for failing to repay money owed to them by her family. In an interview at her single room in Kiwandani area, Kilifi County, Ms Kitsao says her mother’s illness and the financial burden it had on her family made her realise that many families were experiencing tough situations, yet they did not have a social support system.
Ms Kitsao says after her mother lost the battle, and with a heavy financial burden weighing her down, she decided to “wake up, dust myself and soldier on.” She approached the Kilifi County Department of Health for support to carry out sensitisation campaigns for families with cancer patients. “My experience seeking treatment and finances to cater for my mother’s needs taught me tough lessons and while I went through all this, I did not get any psychosocial support. I realised there was a gap that needed to be filled. I did my research and with the help of the Health department, I kicked off the sensitisation programme,” she says.
*The views of the above article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Africa Speaks 4 Africa or its editorial team.