Gani Fawehinmi has fought many battles in his life. He has fought bestial military regimes and corrupt civilian regimes all in pursuance of good governance and better life for the people. He survived primitive treatments in the hands of these regimes but today he is confronted by the most dreaded of all challenges â€“ lung cancer.
He admits in this interview that it is a formidable foe he is up against but believes that with the help of God and the prayers of millions of Nigerians he would prevail. Read why this unusual NigerianÂ wants God to prolong his life. The interview was first published in Saturday Vanguard of May 17, 2008
WERE you ever afraid that youÂ would die when you were hospitalisedÂ abroad?
Afraid? No. Fear? No. But I hadÂ one pain, which is greater than the pain of my lung cancer. That is my memoir, my autobiography. I am yetÂ to publish them. I haveÂ not completedÂ them. I asked my self, ‘would this terminal disease rob me of the opportunity of presenting my full thought to the country?’ One of my basic prayers was that God should prolong my life to enable me put pen on paper.
So that when I go, there would be nothing left in my brain. I want to exhaust this brain, putÂ everything on paper, so that NigeriansÂ yet unborn would learn from the way I lived. I donâ€™t want to miss this opportunity. I know they (written copies of the memoir) are scattered everywhere. So I was worried on how to put them together and present a coherent memoir. This was one of my prayers before I had my operations onÂ August 22,2007.
When I asked the doctorÂ how long would the operation take, he said three and half hours. My breathing was bad and it was only the left lung that was working with 30 per cent strength. I asked, â€˜how could I survive this?â€™
Why did it take so long to discover this disease?
It is Nigeria; it is the governance of our country. It is the lack of medical system in Nigeria and the failure of our leaders to work on the medical needs of our people. Before now, the doctors diagnosed wrong things. The doctors were looking at my usual ailments, high blood pressure, my heart and so on.
They never thought I could have lung cancer since I donâ€™t smoke or drink. Finally, when I was feeling the pain seriously, by January 2007,Â after January 15,Fawehinmism program where I delivered an address, I came back home, it was terrible. I called the doctor, he tested me and said it was lubanimonia. They were pouring anti-biotics on me. On the 20thÂ of June, 2007,1 discovered that each time I went to Sheraton to swim, I found out that if I swim for a distance of 30 feet, I will be breathing seriously and painfully.
AfterÂ sometime, 1 went to a hospital in Victoria -Island for final checkup. I was there for about sixÂ hours. They said my heart was about collapsing, that I was going to haveÂ heart attack. In July, I called my cardiologist, Dr Mike Fadayomi, my childhood friend from the age of four. He is one of the best cardiologistsÂ in this world.
I called him and said they said I should not stay overnight in the hospital where they diagnosed me, otherwise I would have heart attack. He phoned me on his way from Ibadan that I should come to his clinic at TBS. He directed me to a radiologist to do the X-ray first. After that,Â he (radiologist) came with the wet X-ray and showed it to me and Fadayomi.
Fadayomi shouted that my left lung is bad. He said â€˜something dangerous is wrong with your left lung.â€™ He said â€˜Gani you must run to Londonâ€™. He said â€˜I donâ€™t understand thisâ€™.
Immediately, I booked the flight. I asked my daughter in London to book an appointment with the best hospital they call Royal Prompting for Lung, one of the best there. I took off, and I checked-in and started series of tests. EquipmentÂ I have never seen before were brought.
They said my left lung is about collapsing from something they have to investigate. They said there is something like tumour there and that the whole lung was soaked. Finally, they did an operation on the 2nd of August,Â 2007. Thereafter, they came out with the pathologistâ€™s report.
Staged three: I went through series of stages from the minor to the advanced. What surprised me was thatÂ there is no yearÂ I did not do thorough medical check-up in this country and in England.
In February 2007,1 still saw my doctor. He examined me, but he did not discover anything like cancer. So, IÂ didnâ€™t know what was just building up. Doctors in Nigeria did not see it, but they saw it in London. After the operation, they treated me and I was discharged.
They transferred me to one lady,Â Dr Mary Obrian, the consultant medical oncologist. A very brilliant woman. She said she would do her best, that it is only God that prolongs life, but that they would do their best on the sickness. So, they started with the treatment. So, I passed through the first stage of the treatment. The second stage of the treatment also started.
As at that time, I had notÂ lost my voice. The loss of voice was due to a combination of the powerful drugs IÂ used and the ailments. It made myÂ face darker and I lost my voice.
TheÂ second treatment started on January 14,2008. It was very strong chemotherapy, and I did so many circle of the treatment. When it started, I was between life and death. I must say at this point that my wife, Ganiyat Fawehinmi, tried so much. Also the doctors co-operated so much. Many things were done.
Did it ever occur to you during theÂ sickness the roles your late mum played in your life? My mother! (a long silence and weeping). That woman should not have gone. But God knows better.Â My mother came to live for me and used religion to support me.
My mother will fast and fast and pray, reading the Holy Qurâ€™an from morning forÂ following morning, only for one purpose:Â His son,Â Gani. The day she died, I knew I missed something. I missed something fundamental in myÂ life. My mother was more than aÂ mother. She was like a God-sent spiritÂ for me. When God took her away, there must be purpose for that. But, theÂ woman did her best, she cannot be re forever.
What did the doctors say caused is disease? You donâ€™t drink nor smoke.
Right now they said that I belong to group of five percent of people who contracted lung cancer without smoking. But the reason, they donâ€™t ow. It is an unusual thing. Look, the money I spend on food alone is imaginable.
Haa, haa!!! It is a lot of money. I eat the best. I look for the st. So, the problem cannot come from the food I eat. I donâ€™t socialise, I donâ€™t go to parties. There, (London) I had aÂ discussion with one of the experts. I narrated everything to him, telling him my detention experiences.
I askedÂ whether that could have caused the lung cancer, through my experiencesÂ Â which had accumulated over the yearsÂ as a result of the detention or any poisons. One of them said it was possible. I am telling you I passed through dangerous regimes in Nigeria. The regime of Ibrahim Babangida.
I also passed through dreaded Abacha regime.Â Those two regimes detained me horribly. The type of treatments meted to my body in those detentions could probably have contributed to this. TheyÂ could not detect what caused this in England, they only know it is cancer. They also only know it was not caused by smoking. I couldnâ€™ t give answer to at could have caused this. This could he accumulation of the various evil misdeeds of the various governments.
IfÂ the evil misdeeds of these military governments that have caused it, well I ve everything to God to judge. With total believe in God, and my conviction, I will shame this disease and shame how the disease came about.
This is because, I have not done anything to warrant this. My spirit is stillÂ determined to fight the disease and terminate what is terminal disease. I ow God will answer the prayers of those who have been praying.