Martins Ifijeh tells the story of an ambitious young Nigerian woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer, but due to ignorance and high cost of treatment, opted for herbal treatment in Jos as opposed to orthodox treatment, which subsequently worsened his condition. However, she was fortunate enough to retrace her steps in time and currently has access to proper health care in Abuja.
November 2018 will be an unforgettable month for Gloria Chinyere Okwu; a beautiful and ambitious Nigerian, who had hoped to end the year by fulfilling some of her healthy dreams. But life had something else up its sleeves. She woke up one morning and noticed a lump under the skin of her chest.
Gloria told THISDAY that she didn’t know what to think rather than asking her doctor for advice. She prayed that it was just a bump or a bug bite. But she was wrong. After examination and scan, the diagnosis showed it to be cancer.
As usual with any Nigerian, she went into panic mode. She knew that cancers are expensive to treat and that the country does not have insurance policies covering cancer treatment for poor Nigerians. She went home, not knowing what to do. She had no money. But cancers do not wait for its host, it grows anyway.
By the time Gloria returned to the hospital to see her oncologist, the lump had grown. “I was reprimanded by my doctor for not following the mass with treatment. I told him that I did not have a job at the time of my referral and that I only recently got one that didn’t. ‘was not even going to pay the exorbitant bill, “she said. him.
Nigerian oncologists hear this every day, especially since a large number of citizens ideally cannot foot the bill for cancer treatment. The oncologist picked up his phone and called a non-governmental organization. But the NGO said she had no money to fund her treatment.
More than two million Nigerians are currently living with various forms of cancer and over 80% of them do not have the funds to seek treatment. While some NGOs have made efforts to help, there is little they can do due to the high cost of treatment.
Gloria said: “That’s how I started to cry. I’ve been shot all week. Christmas plans have officially been put on hold. I started to strategize on how to collect funds for processing. “
Trip to an herbalist in Jos
“In the process of educating me on my options, someone told me about an herbalist in Jos. My informant said the guy cursed cancer from his roots. said he doesn’t cut the breast, he doesn’t mastectomy and radiotherapy. That all he did was remove the lump and offer concoctions, and that I will be cured. My aunt was a testimony of his prowess. He had operated on her cancerous breast and was “removing” all the lumps of her breast … so we thought. “
It was perhaps the best news Gloria had had in a while. As someone ready to fight the disease until quitting, and given that she had limited options due to funding, she, along with a friend of her own, set off for Jos.
The house with rolling herbs
“We left Abuja very early and at 12:15 pm we got off the bike. The place is Kerang, a beautiful hilly village, where bottled water is produced. At the herbalist’s house, I saw many patients, mostly women. Some had undergone the brutal but often called “successful surgery”. “
Gloria was excited. She saw people who told her they were recovering. In his mind, hospitals, chemotherapy and the enormous costs of treatment can escalate. She thought she was going to beat cancer in this mountain. “The man made a minor incision and asked me to go get ready for the main operation.
“I consulted and I was convinced. I returned to Abuja the same day and seriously prepared for my second operation. On December 27, 2018, I hit the road again, with my stove, my little pot, blankets, clothes, food, some cash, my son and my caregiver, my unwavering friend and patient.
“The cold was merciless. We were given a small hut with no curtain, no electricity, no water, no toilet, just a little moss. But none of us cared. We just want to be fine. the next day and I was injected with two doses of a certain medicine. I didn’t sleep in oblivion like my first surgery, I just drifted off. You see, I was somewhere that I cannot describe during the operation. I am always afraid when this memory resurfaces.
“While the herbalist was performing the operation, I was conscious in my subconscious and felt like my soul was literally being torn from my body. I felt an unearthly pain when the knife stabbed me and I heard myself scream. I was squeezed. through the walls, twisted and stretched. In my subconscious, I saw myself falling from frightening heights into the abyss. I even saw a coffin and I was said I was dead. There were four faces in the “theater” and I heard my friend’s voice: “Ndo nne, Ndo Gloria”. Then I heard him talk about gibberish. He had four eyes and seemed to dominate me, ”she described.
She told THISDAY, that her friend said she had her eyes open throughout the operation. “When I came back to reality, I woke up and was held down to the floor to avoid hitting the two pairs of scissors on my chest. It was their local way of preventing postoperative bleeding.
“After two days, the bandages on my chest were removed and four rough, deep holes looked at me. Jesus!! I cringed at the sight. I could swear the herbalist touched my ribs while he was cleaning one of the holes.
“People showed up to the center every day with all kinds of cancers. When the huts were full, we shared rooms. Rice and sour porridge to wash it off.”
For post-operative management, she has been told to avoid pepper, goat meat, and peanut oil until the herbalist certifies her that she is okay with taking them. After eight days, Gloria returned home armed with herbs to drink and cleaned the wounds for good healing. She was sure the herbal concoction would destroy any cancer cells that were left in her.
When she arrived in Abuja, a friend of hers even suggested having a small party to celebrate her defeat against cancer. Under the deep gashes in her breasts were bandages that she covered with clothes.
Reality appeared on Gloria
A month later, Gloria noticed another lump. By the time she returned to Jos to get more herbal medicine in January, the “clinic” was wearing a new look. Everything was no longer in the mood. Some patients had very frightening conditions. Some cried all night. A patient she had met there earlier died after removing pieces of her back.
“A boy who had been operated on for oral cancer came back with a worsened sore and was rejected. I got scared. Then my aunt, who referred me to the herbalist; who I thought was recovering well, was fell into a coma and died! Her breast cancer had spread to other vital organs. “
It was then; Gloria came to her senses. She knew she was heading for the grave with the decision to abandon orthodox treatment for herbal treatment.
Road to recovery
“I wondered what I was thinking. I went back to Abuja National Hospital and the doctors just shook their heads at my story. They wondered why I had made such decisions and I submitted. to an herbalist for surgery? Me. I didn’t know what to say. I just sat there, silent and looking at my feet. I was back to square one. They told me I had to do chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“I nodded sheepishly because I was finally convinced that if there was an herbal cure for cancer, it wasn’t for Jos. Some of the women I have she met there are in treatment now. We’ve wasted precious time! I hope we’ll be okay in the end. “
Although Gloria is currently doing well with her treatment, although she said it was costing her a lot of money that she didn’t have, she said she would continue to tell cancer survivors that he didn’t. there was no herbal remedy for the disease.
“Every day I see people asking for other alternative cancer treatments, and I hear weird responses and misguided action. Trust me, I’ve been there! Don’t waste your time and money on treatments that you can’t measure. Do the right thing and do it fast, “she said.
She also called on Nigerians to financially and emotionally support those battling cancer as the treatment was expensive.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that between 30 and 50 percent of all cancer cases are preventable, noting that prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for cancer control. He called on countries to implement national policies and programs to raise awareness, reduce exposure to cancer risk factors and ensure people receive the information and support they need to adopt healthy lifestyles. .
He also advised people battling the disease to come to hospitals early for treatment or care.