Financial burden that is Cancer

07 May 2015 | by
 Financial burden that is Cancer

My mother’s battle with Cancer of the Colon , the financial and emotional journey The story of LilianOmariba’s mother as told to Gazette Weekly

  1. 1.      Please tell us your name and how cancer came into the family I;e who was affected?

My name is illian Omariba.

To be honest I never imagined we would experience cancer so close in the family. From the stories I read and pain you would here those who unfortunately suffer from cancer go through, it is one of those diseases one prays to God that should not affect any of your family members.  I remember sometime in late 2012 my mum called me one evening and as we were chatting she told me she had gone for her health check in which they were screening even for any other ailments like cancer and was told she was ok and would just go back after two years for checkup. Mum had good health until early 2013 when she started complaining of stomach pains.

  1. 2.      How and when was it diagnosed..was it by accident or routine check up?

As mentioned earlier, Mum had good health until early 2013 when she started complaining of stomach pains. Cancer was the last thing to even think about at that time. She went to hospital in Kisii and was referred for surgical review. Without wasting time my dad called me to inform me what was happening. On the same day I travelled home to pick my mum and brought her to Nairobi for further examination and thorough checks so as to get down to the root cause of her pain before undergoing any surgery. It took a series of examinations and was on medication for ulcers which had been detected. It was during these tests that she was diagnosed with cancer of the Colon, stage 4.

  1. 3.      How did you feel when the diagnosis came through?

During mum’s examination processes I used to read a lot about the symptoms she had just because I wanted to understand what exactly what happening to her. I prayed a lot and asked God. At the last check which indicated CA, the doctor told us to return after three days so that he could explain results in details. I was with mum and my brother when the doctor broke the news. It was not easy to accept, but I had to stay strong for my mum and prayed that God gave her the strength too. My brother broke into tears. Of course we felt bad. It was disturbing. He suggested that we see an Oncologist as soon as possible. We had to move very fast.  I remember my mum saying she did not believe she had cancer, but again I think she was in denial as this was shocking news. Immediately on the same day we went to an oncologist who explained further what it meant and gave a breakdown of the cost for the medication. We went back home and prayed about the long journey we were about to start with the cancer battle.


  1. 4.      What were the initial costs?

The examinations alone were very expensive. By the time my mum was diagnosed, we had already spent nearly half a million for the examinations and medications she was taking for other symptoms while on examinations process for three weeks.

  1. 5.      Having taken this journey could you break it up for us on the costs and the kind of treatments that were offered?

Since May 2013, mum has been in and out of hospital for cancer treatment and related complications. Chemotherapy cost 82,600 shillings every session of two days admission at Texas Cancer center after every 14 days.  These did not include take home medication for the 14 days. She went through 12 sessions of chemotherapy for six months which all totaled to about 1.5million shillings. After clearing her chemotherapy treatment she was much better and was scheduled for monthly reviews. The three reviews in February, March and April this year results indicated that the cancer had remitted and she was progressing well. Unfortunately just about mid-April she again fell ill we rushed her to hospital. This time the doctors advised the only option was to undergo surgery. She pulled through that well and was discharged after a month of admission. This time we again paid another 1.3million for the hospital bill. She still needed medication to continue at home for two months and was scheduled for monthly reviews.

Unfortunately she was taken ill again and was admitted in August, this time it seemed the cancer had recurred. Her situation quickly deteriorated and unfortunately she passed on last month. The bill again added to another 1.5 million shillings.


  1. 6.      Did your mom have insurance if yes how much did it cover if not how did you raise the money

Mum did not have any insurance. We tried to get one but at that time it was difficult as she was already diagnosed. She was on NHIF which of course did not cover much just a small percentage for bed charges.

  1. 7.      What is the most critical thing you needed during this time?

Money was very crucial at time for us to be able to get her on medication without skipping her doses. Diet is another crucial aspect for a patient with cancer. We had to make sure that she was on a cancer diet that will help her gain quickly as chemotherapy is very strong. IT can also weight one down emotionally, and I thank God for good family and friends who walked the journey with us.

  1. 8.       How did your family cope both emotionally and financially

It used to weigh her down sometimes, But she tried hard and soldiered on. I remember even the times she was weak, she would still encourage other cancer patients to soldier on in the fight. She inspired me a lot. For me she was a hero, because she was hopeful and faithful to the end.  It was not easy for everyone in the family. It drains you financially, spiritually and emotionally, but we constantly prayed for God’s grace. If you have strong faith in God he always walks with you in any difficult situation. Our family and friends came together and we had to fundraise twice for her medication. Much as it was a rough road, mama walked the journey with a lot of strength even at her weakest point; she was prayerful and hopeful that God will see her through


  1. 9.      I know this must have been a difficult journey, what  lessons have you learned in the fight against cancer

This was like a school for me. I got learn so much through the journey. It is a long one, but I always put my trust in God. I used to tell much that God never gives a challenge we cannot handle, and HE will hold our hands through the battle. I did a lot of research just to get to details in understanding what my mum was going through. From symptoms to treatment, management and diet. Sometime I would do my research and then prepare a list of questions to ask the doctors in our reviews. I learn that it was very important to have knowledge, it is also important to be positive when you are especially caring for a cancer patient. If I had given up and showed my mum that there was no hope then I would have killed the little hope she had. So I learnt to warrior with her, encouraged and ensured I also engaged her in ways to her help not get into depression.

  1. 10.  Knowing that you did your best to make sure that your mother was comfortable how do you feel after you lost her to cancer?

The day my mum passed on I still had high hopes. I did not even think a second that her heart would stop beating that day. But I slowly thought thought through how we walked the journey step by step all the way and said, if it is time that God feels she rested from the pain then there was nothing I could do. It was painful to accept  because we had worked so hard to try and give our mum the best care we could as her children. But still we lost the battle. We used to encourage mum and tell her that one day she will be a testimony, but I will do my best to continue by encouraging other cancer survivors.

  1. 11.  Do you think the government is doing enough to support families and if not what do you think in your opinion should be done?

The government needs to do more. There is need to equip hospitals even in counties with facilities and medication. So many people are now being diagnosed with cancer I just feel that something is not right somewhere and our government need to do more in our health system

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