How cancer journey inspired woman to help others

When most people are diagnosed with cancer, they see it as a death sentence and although they seek treatment they have little hope for recovery or living a normal life afterwards.

This was the situation Ms Carole Njagih found herself in in 2002 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

With no job and a young son to take care of, Carole sought the help of relatives and friends who later turned their backs on her when faced with the massive financial burden that comes with the disease.

She was taken in by an uncle who lived in Rongai during her treatment but he was killed in a road accident while she was still undergoing treatment.

She later sought help from a friend who lived in a spacious house in Upperhill but her friend kicked her out after she found her son had been brought to live with them in the house as he underwent treatment for severe malaria.

With a sick child who needed hourly injections and battling the crippling side effects of chemotherapy, Carole sought shelter at her cousin’s one-bedroom apartment in Kawangware where he lived with his wife, son and house help.

Here they had to sleep on the floor.

The cost of treatment was sometimes a burden too heavy for her to carry.

“One time I walked to the hospital and did not have enough money so I asked for a waiver from one of the consultant doctors but he threw away my papers.”

“I looked at him with my eyes filled with tears and sorrow as I bent down to pick the paper. Another consultant who had watched the whole episode called me and signed the waiver – that was the beginning of my road to healing and a sense of belonging,” she said.

Carole’s experience fighting cancer and the challenges she was faced with as she tried to access treatment coupled with the financial burden that came with the disease inspired her to help others going through the same ordeal.

In 2008 she applied for registration of an NGO, Oasis of Life Organisation, to help sensitise people on cancer and promote cancer advocacy.

The registration came through in 2010 with the certificate being released in 2012, the same year she was celebrating 10 years since diagnosis.

10 & 5 LIFE RACE

Carole organised a 10km cancer awareness walk in 2012, and with a team of volunteer medical doctors, clinical officers and nurses set up a free medical camp for breast cancer screening and blood donation.

“The effect on society was great and the board agreed to make it an annual cancer awareness event under the flag name 10&5 Life Race,” she said.

The event is held every November, which is the month she was diagnosed with cancer.

In 2013, the event was re-branded to 10 & 5 Life Race, which covers 10 km and 5 km road races and added more activities including cervical screening and HIV Testing and counselling.

“A year later, we added other features including screening for prostrate cancer and dissemination of information on different cancers,” said Carole.

“This year we are hoping to have chlyotherapy (freezing of cancer cells for any cervical case detected) on the spot to stop further spread of the cancer in the body,” she added.

The Oasis of Life Organization partners with other NGO’s like Population Services Kenya and corporate entities, notably Royal Media Services, Brookside, Kenya Power, Embu College, and Kangaru School in its programmes.

This year the event will be held on November 7th at Kangaru School in Embu and will feature a 10km and 5 km road race and expanded fields for screening of cervical cancer.

“I wish to thank God and all those who have played a role in my being alive today. I call upon each one of us to stand and be a source of hope for another person,” she said.

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