…Says breakdown of radiotherapy machines major threat to survival
By Chioma Obinna
EVERYONE was moved to tears at the Cromwell Courtyard Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, when 30-year-old Nurat Salmon, narrated her story. Nurat, a mother of one, currently undergoing breast cancer treatment, told her audience how cancer turned her into a beggar. The graduate of Mass Communication from the Lagos State University, LASU, recollected her journey since November 2016 and how the breakdown of Radiotherapy machines in the country is stalling her treatment.
She narrated how she was forced to stop breastfeeding her baby when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.“All was well until I noticed a painless lump in my breast. I noticed early because I usually examine my breasts. But at the hospital, the doctor said I should ignore the lump since I was breastfeeding and that it was normal.”
But not satisfied, Nurat went in search of a second opinion and during the course of her search, she encountered Cancer Care Link Foundation that diagnosed her with breast cancer.
“I returned home and cried. I went to a Foundation, I was told to go home that it was all over. I came back and told my parents and we cried together.
Coming from an indegent background, Nurat battled the odds to raise money for her treatment. With no hope of raising money for treatment, along her family and friends, she went around begging for assistance.
“The first time I visited a treatment centre, I was told to go home, that it was all over. I practically begged from house to house, from churches to mosques to complete my chemotherapy,”
In February this year, she had surgery and was placed on eight sessions of chemotherapy. “Shortly thereafter, I was spending N200, 000 for a session of chemotherapy in a private hospital in Ibadan.
Regretting that the journey of cancer treatment in Nigeria is not an easy one, Nurat said the plight of patients is made worse by treatment that is too expensive and doctors that give no hope to patients.
Describing the pain of chemotherapy as “crazy”, Nurat said it has been hurtful.
Greatest challenge: “I lost all my hair, the weakness after the injection was a big challenge.
“My biggest challenge now is that six out of the seven Radiotherapy machines in the country are bad. It is really a bad news for a cancer patient. We have only one radiotherapy machine working in a private hospital. In that hospital, to use the machine costs about N600, 000
“How can one machine serve over two million cancer patients? The disturbing part is that I went to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, I was told the machine was down and they do not know when it would be fixed.”
But God says He will never leave His people. I just finished chemotherapy. I am glad to tell my story because cancer is not a death sentence. Cancer does not kill, it is depression that kills.”Overwhelmed by emotions at this point, Nurat appealed to the Federal government to come to the rescue of cancer patients that are dying daily in the country.
“We said we want to reduce the deaths from cancer, how do we do that? How do we pass the message that it is not the end of the world? We want to pass this message to the government that cancer patients are dying.
Nurat who remarked that she was planning to go to Benin Republic for radiotherapy treatment said: “I want government to move into our health system. I am not a doctor but I have read a lot. I can say that our medical system is lagging behind. Government should support the treatment cost of cancer patients in Nigeria. Those that don’t have the money are dying.
“I also want doctors to talk to cancer patients. Tell them what is wrong with them and what they are going to go through. Stop making them feel it is a death sentence. The way our doctors portray cancer makes one to feel one is really dying, she observed. It does not give hope.”