Cancer: a Story of Hope
By Josam Alecho
Cancer is a horrible and terrifying disease but millions of people around the world have beaten the odds and beat cancer.
According to American Cancer Society, whether a person’s cancer can be cured depends on the type and stage of the cancer, the type of treatment they can get, and other factors. Some cancers are more likely to be cured than others. But each cancer needs to be treated differently.
In this story, Josam Alecho tells a story of 22-year-old man from Manafwa district who has successfully ben cured of cancer.
Vincent Nakhokho was born on 28 November 2000 in Buwere Village, Butta Sub-County in Mbale District to Semu Wamambe and Carol Namutosi.
Nakhokho started experiencing signs of stomach swelling at 6 years of age, prompting his parents to visit Kigayi clinic in Manafwa a nearby District.
The doctor prescribed deworming syrup in anticipation of worms in Nakhokho’s stomach. However, this did not alleviate his symptoms.
During the same time, Nakhokho – now a survivor was referred to Mbale Main Hospital where the doctor recommended True Vine Hospital in Tororo District which he thought would handle the situation better, since all tests conducted by him were negative, and the pain from the swollen stomach was at a worrying state.
After close to a year of treatment in True Vine Hospital where the doctors tried their best in vain, Nakhokho was left with no option but to return home to await his fate.
At home, the situation escalated and he was brought back to True Vine Hospital where this time round, the Doctors transferred him to Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala.
In 2008, while at Mulago National referral hospital, several tests were conducted revealing he had Wilms tumor— a type of childhood cancer that starts in the kidney— and was accordingly put on chemotherapy treatment. He consequently lost his sight and for close to 2 months, Nakhokho could only move in a wheelchair or after being carried.
In 2010, Dr. Sarah at Hospice Africa, a then partner with Uganda Cancer Institute was approached by Nakhokho’s mother who described her challenges during the treatment process, among which getting something to eat, basic needs was a miracle having sold almost everything in a bid to fight for her sons’ life(??).
Dr. Sarah was compassionately moved to connect them to Bless a Child Foundation (BCF) where they were warmly welcomed and accordingly attended to.
While at BCF, a number of care support services were provided, which included food and accommodation, transport to and fro hospital, psychosocial support, remedial classes and play-therapy among others.
“The amazing love, conducive environment and friendly people at BCF revived my hope to the extent of forgetting I was away from home. I liked the remedial classes conducted that kept my spirit academically alive” said Nakhokho.
In 2017, Nakhokho went for his periodic review where doctors reported he was out of danger and need not come for further reviews unless otherwise. His sight and mobility eventually returned and to date, Nakhokho has not experienced any complications and hasn’t gone for any additional reviews. He is pursuing a certificate in Film making and Video Production at Global Institute of Information and Technology Business (GIIT) and currently volunteering at BCF as a home-manager.
According to Namutosi— the survivor’s mother— hope had completely been lost within the 4 years spent in different hospitals since she had no financial muscle to push any further, had it not been for BCF’s intervention to provide beyond expectations.
“The people that are there for you on your darkest nights will never go off your mind and worth every Christian prayer. My heartfelt and great thanks goes to Bless a Child Foundation for having been a key factor in the victory and testimony of my son” said Namutosi.
It should be remembered that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization Report dated 3rd February 2022 accounts for nearly ten million deaths in 2020. However, cancer can be cured if detected early and treated effectively.
According to International Agency for Research on Cancer, globally, 18,094,716 million cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2020. The age-standardised rate for all cancers (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) for men and women combined was 190 per 100,000 in 2020. The rate was higher for men (206.9 per 100,000) than women (178.1 per 100,000).
In Uganda a total of 34,008 new cancers were detected in the five year period ending 2020 while 22,992 deaths was recorded in the same period.