I met Lilian a few weeks ago at her house in Rongai. I was referred to her by Irene her cousin. I remember that day very clearly. I had just finished work on a Saturday afternoon and I was looking forward to heading to my Uncle’s house for a family get together. Lots of nyama choma and laughs with my cousins was in store. Just as I was getting ready to head to my Uncle’s house, Lilian sent me an SMS.
“Hi, Waithera. Are you still coming to see me today? Here are the directions to my place in Rongai”
Oh dear! I had forgotten I had promised Lilian I would go visit her this Saturday! We had never met but only talked on the phone a few times, as I gave her advice on how to seek treatment in India. I quickly made a detour and started heading out to Rongai. The nyama choma could wait. As I made my way to Rongai, my uncle called me to ask where I was as he was surprised I had not yet shown up for his mbuzi party. I told him I was going to Rongai so I would show up after 6pm. He said, what in heaven’s name are you going to do Rongai? I told him it was a long story but I would fill him in when I got back.
I got to Rongai and Lilian shared her story with me as her 8 year old daughter sat by her side, hardly saying a word. Lilian was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago. She went through a round of treatment which included surgery on the affected breast, chemotherapy and radiation. Just when she thought she was out of the woods, the cancer reappeared this time as a spot on her liver. A few days ago Lilian travelled to India and a PET scan has shown a mass in her liver. More tests are going to be run to confirm the diagnosis and her treatment course.
Lilian and I have many similarities which explains why her plight is very personal to me. Lilian is also my dear mothers’ name. Lilian is 40 years old (I am heading there by end year). She is married with two daughters aged 18 and 8 years. I am blessed with two sons aged 16 and 7. The similarity there is that we both have kids that are 9 -10 years apart in age.
The most critical similarity I would like to share between Lilian and I is that we are cancer victims. I was diagnosed with breast cancer stage 3 just 3 years ago and I went through 2 years of treatment which involved surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I thank God every day that I survived the cancer and I am now living a healthy life. The journey was not smooth and one of the key challenges I faced was finances. I needed about Kshs 6 million for my treatment and managed to raise about half of that through insurance, family, friends and my employer. The balance of the funds came from people I didn’t know. Yes, strangers saved my life! I put out a medical appeal for financial support and Kenyans far and wide, including from the diaspora came out to help me raise the funds. It didn’t happen overnight or entirely on social media like #1millionforjadudi but it happened and I got the funds and got the best treatment in Kenya, India and South Africa.
Now it’s Lilian’s turn. She needs my help and yours too. Lilian is currently in India receiving treatment. She has been put on 16 cycles of chemotherapy and each costs $2,700. In total, her family estimates she needs Kshs 4.5million for her entire treatment.
This is my personal appeal to you to help me help Lilian. You did it for me. Let’s do it for Lilian. Read her journey and how to contribute here.
Thank you for your support!