Over 5,250 lives are lost every year in Kenya following cervical cancer.
This is according to a research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in September 2018, which shows that, next to breast cancer, cervical cancer is the second ranked women killer disease in Kenya.
It further states that cervical cancer is common among women aged between 21 to 65 years old.
Researchers and physicians have put in place endless efforts to fight the disease, but its effects continue to worsen owing to the fact that patients seek help during the late stages of the fatal illness.
But what really entails to this killer disease and the realities patients go through. News 9 Kenya takes us through the realities of cervical cancer.
First, we look at some of the symptoms related to cervical cancer that women should look out for and go get Pap smear tests as soon as they identify any of them.
They include; vaginal bleeding; after sex, between menstrual periods, post-menopause, watery, pink or foul-smelling vaginal discharge and pain in the pelvic area
These advances to another stage which will lead to other signs including back pain, fatigue, weight loss and leakage of urine or stool via the vagina
In addition to these highly embarrassing and discomforting symptoms, women living with cervical cancer are stigmatized by their own communities –their own people.
Like HIV/AIDS, cancer comes with a stigma of its own and patients carry it like a huge pile of shit. No matter how heavy it gets, or how much it stinks, women are supposed to keep going.
Agnes* who preferred to keep her real name anonymous, revealed that when people found out that she was battling cervical cancer, they started treating her differently. They walked on eggshells around her. They pitied her; while others talked behind her back.
Cancer is worse than AIDS. Let us give her a few months and she’ll be gone. Maybe she had too much sex. Too many abortions. Too many different men. That’s her punishment and she deserves it! They would say.
Most of the things that people say are nothing more than stereotypes blindly constructed by our ignorant societies in an attempt to understand the disease.
Truth be told, no patient can really tell what caused their cancer; because sometimes it’s hard to be sure.
Here are some of the most common causes of cervical cancer: Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, smoking, herpes, having multiple sexual partners, use of some birth control pills for a long time.
Researchers advise staying away from some of the above mentioned causes can help women stay safe from facing the realities of cervical cancer. Furthermore, when diagnosed during its early stages, the disease is curable.
Women who seek treatment have different experiences. A study dubbed “Not so simple. The impact of cervical cell changes and treatment” and conducted by Jostrust, unravels such cases.
Some women have it easy while others go through side effects that they are totally unprepared for.
The study shows that 86% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer bleed for up to 6 weeks during the treatment period. 15% of them do not expect it, only 9% of the women are aware of the fact that they might experience extremely low libido. Following the treatment, 33% experience pain during and after having sexual intercourse and only 10% know that they would be plagued by anxiety, depression and fear of cancer
From this experience, cervical cancers can abruptly change a woman’s life; plunging her deeper into a darker, misery-ridden world.
Women are also advised to get vaccination against HPV and go for regular screening for the disease.