December 13, 2007 is a day Julia Oyefunke Fortune would live toremember. It was the day she was diagnosed of breast cancer.The revelation was like a thunderbolt. Although the sun was shining, itsglare was not enough to illuminate the darkness that enveloped her soul that day.
Still in shock, Julia, then 51, tried to decipher the implication of the doctor’s interpretation of “calcifications” in her (Julia’s) right breast from the mammogram result.
It was a damning revelation that shook her marrow. Confusion, denial, anger, fear, all set in. Is it all a dream, a terrible nightmare? Her mind in turmoil,she wondered in a daze. It can’t be real, can it? Alas, it was true. It was scary, real and ugly.
Although just a preliminary examination, there was a glimmer of hope that a confirmatory test would overturn the initial outcome, but deep down in her heart, Julia knew her life would never be the same again.She didn’t pretend to be too naïve not to admit, at least to herself, that her journey into the terrifying world of cancer had begun. And she couldn’t have been more correct.
A second mammogram only confirmed her worst nightmare. Her journey into the cold, dark world of cancerhad indeed begun. But Julia had a resolve. It wasn’t going to be a one-way journey. She would return.From then on it was from one referral to another, from one oncologist to another, and from one evaluation to another. Cancer was no new comer to brilliant and beautiful Julia.
An experienced entrepreneur, she already knew of one associate or distant relative who had succumbed.
Many of her friends and acquaintances had battled the disorder, so, in more ways than one she was wise to the warnings. She knew about breast cancer long before it knew her.
Long before her diagnosis, Julia had done her research, visitedwebsites and learned all the essential step-by-step information on performingself-examinations. She kept on top of the cancer statistics, mentally noticing researchers estimated a 3.5 percent increase in breast cancer cases alone.
She’d kept track of survivor rates and knew that no less than 2.4 million women supposedly won the fight against cancer every year.
Regularly and religiously, she did all the right things, performed the breast self-examinations and always looking for signs of a tumour and was almost paranoid. But a survivor she was. She never lost hope.“I know how alone this disease makes you feel. Even if you have a world of supporters, cancer is still a very personal disease; it takes hold of your soul and can make or break you.
That choice is yours and yours alone to make, but no matter how bad the situation may seem, no matter how hopeless you may feel, there is always something you can do about it, even if it is as simple as learning to be at peace with your fate, ” Julia’s exact words.
Julia’s road to recovery didn’t start too well, but she fought gallantly and won. “There were diagnostic drugs to take. I asked myself that if I used all those drugs of what benefit would they be to me.
Will it benefit by 10 percent, 15, 20 or 80 percent? Will the cancer come back? Will it spread? More questions than answers.”Julia knew there were tools that can detect cancer but doctors in Nigeria are not using them.
The typical treatment is radiation and chemotherapy. She says: “These are terrible; they are brother and
sister and are killers. I deviated from radiation and chemotherapy because my body was already exhibiting the symptoms and side effects of using them, even without using them, so what would have happened if I now took them? I would have gone real fast.
The hospitals here don’t really test the people as thoroughly as required. I checked myself for vitamin D deficiency, my bones were weak, my joints were weak and the side effects of chemotherapy would have attacked the bones.”Cancer visited Julia uninvited, so she had to figure out a way to deal with it. her faith played a major role.
From day one, she said “Lord,you know I have four children, Adeyinka, who turned 31 this year, Adeola, 26, Adedoyin, 25, and Adebola, 18. I said Lord, just hear my prayer.
I’m asking for just three things, that is when I will know I will live long. First thing is you will let me see my grandchild, give me that privilege. That has been granted.
My grand child is three years old.“Then I said, Lord, You will let me witness and participate in the white coat ceremony of Adeola, who went to medical school last year.I was a proud mother at the ceremony. Third, I said Lord, you will allow me visit the country I come from. I owe that country something.
Isaiduse me as an instrument to remove the covering on my people’s eyes about this disease. I want to make an impact in Nigeria.”
Cancer is complex. Two people can have the same type of cancer but react to it differently. For some people, cancer is ready to kill them. Julia wants to plant anticancer foods, let people know what they should eat. She wants to teach people to grow these foods even in their houses.
She wants to win them away from the cancer-causing foods that they are ingesting now. Nigerians are copying American diets that is why cancer is increasing. Cancer does not like sodium which is salt.
Cancer does not like sugar, and all these pasta and snacks we eat turn to sugar. So there is need for the education about what to do.Julia has done studies to know that when you change your diet, cancer can regress.Doctors know what to do, but do not do it, except for a very few.
When Nigerians go down with cancer, they run down to America, yet there are 7.5 million misdiagnoses due to medical errors in the United States of America alone every year. Yet we take off, pay everything and rush to take the chemotherapy and die.
But for Julia, it is more of being an advocate to force the government to do the right thing, which is too improve the infrastructure, spend money on research, embrace, alternative medicine. Instead of condemning, let us embrace them. Cancer has been around for centuries yet there is no cure. Where is the cure going to come from anyway? Today, Julia is a volunteer for cancer and legislative ambassador for the American Cancer Society. Her book “Chronicles of a cancer Survivor” is a testament of her journey through cancer.
A book aboutprevention as much as about healing, the way Julia sees cancer has certainly changed. She shares successful ways of improving health and healing through natural suggestions for improved diet to optimize the natural healing process.
Currently attending the University of Maryland ,University College to attain a Masters in Healthcare Administration, she is seeking for N330 million to build a total wellness body centre/Foundation in Lagos.
would train people on how to better partner with doctors and to see doctors not as God but as a support system that would respect their value and belief systems, and use it to develop an individualised plans for them.