Survivor on mission to support cancer patients
Monday, July 19th, 2021 00:00 | 4 mins read
Carol Ng’ang’a’s experience with cervical cancer made her understand too well the toll it takes on individuals and caretakers. She set up a foundation to help others going through the same.
Carol Ng’ang’a had never come into close contact with cancer until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2013.
Consequently, all through, cancer was the least of her worries and she had minimal information about it.
However, when she went for routine screening because her medical cover was lapsing, she took a pap smear test for the first time.
When results came out about a month later, it showed she had cervical cancer.
“This is when my life took a U-turn. I was only 27 years old, scared, confused, angry and any emotion you can think of ran through my heart and mind.
After three months of seeking second and third opinions, I reluctantly resolved to do a laparoscopy total hysterectomy, and on March 23, 2013 the result was the same.
I was a cervical cancer patient. This affected me physically, emotionally, and mentally,” she says.
She settled in the village, where her parents and aunt took care of her. Her mother introduced her to a naturopathic way of life.
Naturopathy is a form of healthcare that combines modern treatment with traditional methods.
It includes alternative, natural therapies to modern medicine. This worked for her and in no time she was back to work.
However, in September 2013, she quit her job to support another woman who was facing what she had faced.
This is when Hold Every Lady in Distress (HELD) Sister Foundation was borne.
At first, she was keen on offering psychological and social support, but in 2016, she integrated nutritional and wholesome therapy for cancer patients.
“HELD Sister Foundation is a non-profit organisation I run to date. It helps create awareness on cancer prevention and management as well as help cancer patients pick up the pieces after diagnosis, during diagnosis, and after treatment,” she explains.
The organisation helps survivors and patients get their lives back on track in different ways.
When one is diagnosed, they provide counselling to the entire family and, especially caregivers. During treatment, they follow up on the patient’s conventional treatment if any, his/her diet, physical activity, and state of mind.
For this generation
For those done with treatment and because of the disease are either immobilised or their income was affected, they help them find an income-generating activity and train them on social enterprises, making sure they will be able to feed their family.
“We also support families with their daily needs such as food, toiletries, etc. We fundraise if necessary to ensure all our patient’s National Hospital Insurance Fund accounts are up to date.
For parents who pass on and leave their children under our care, we see to it that they get education and life skills to sustain them. We do this through partnerships with institutions and well-wishers,” Carol adds.
She has joined hands with other like-minded partners and they have formed a movement dubbed Kizazi Chetu (our generation).
This is a cervical health awareness movement that aims at creating a generation of cervical cancer-free women who are bold, autonomous, and fully protected from the disease.
The movement is a call to action for women, girls, and society to take up the cervical cancer elimination agenda by becoming informed and engaged on the importance of cervical health and cervical cancer prevention.
“This is a platform is bringing together Kenyans from all walks of life to have bold conversations around cervical cancer awareness, prevention and management,” Carol expounds.
Since health disparities are one of the major challenges faced by many women, Carol uses all available platforms such as social media, public forums, mainstream media to provide correct information on all gynaecological cancers.
Recently she started a YouTube channel (Carol Your Health Coach) where she shares more tips on healthy living.
“I have also intensified my knowledge and exposure in naturopathy, and today I am a practicing healthy life ambassador and a naturopathic health coach.”
To ensure no one has been left behind, she involves men in her programmes because they also need to understand that they too can have Human Papilloma Virus, only that they can’t get the two strains known to cause 70 per cent of cervical cancer. Besides when men learn this they will not rush to stigmatise women and they too will take precautions.
All about nutrition
However, she says that despite that the days are getting brighter for the Kenyan woman as most government health facilities are offering reproductive health services, cervical cancer education, screening, and treatment being one of them at affordable prices, there are still major hiccups especially for women who need chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
She reveals that drugs are expensive and unavailable locally especially to the rural communities.
Though surgery services are available, a small percentage of unethical doctors are still taking advantage of the rural patients’ lack of awareness and doing a shoddy job.
“I’d urge the government and health facilities, when investing for gynecological cancers and cancer in general, to invest in proper psychological and nutritional support.
Healing needs a wholesome approach and when we neglect the mind and what the body feeds on to remain strong, we lose track of the healing process,’ she says.
In matters of nutrition, she insists that patients need to incorporate indigenous food in their diet since this will see a whole lot of difference in their healing process.
Neglecting the psychological and nutritional bit, deteriorates the patients’ health despite the chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments that they invest wholly in.