It All Started with Blood Stains in his Urine.
Morrison was diagnosed with stage 2 Kidney Cancer in September 2016. He was just 5 years old at the time. His mom, Susan Mburu, tells their story so far.
It all started with traces of urine in his blood. The doctors at a local health facility said it was a normal Urinary Tract Infection. Doctors treated it but it never seemed to go away but they insisted it was just an infection.
The problem persisted. But this time round, his tummy started swelling and became very painful. I was sure it was not just an infection.
It wasn’t a Urinal Tract infection
Morrison, would go off his food and seemed sick and very weak. He missed out a lot of things because of his illness. Morrison also had really bad stomach pains. These pains were coming and going for about three to four weeks. Two weeks later, I took Morrison back to the doctors with the same thing, only this time the pains were worse.
The doctors at the health center referred us to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) for a second opinion and further tests.
In November 2016, the tests revealed a tumor around Morrison’s Kidney.
My life changed forever.
Tumor found on the kidney
Doctors told us that Morrison would need ultrasound scans on the lump, so we needed to stay in hospital that night. The following day the ultra sound scan confirmed, the lump was cancerous.
And treatment was to start immediately.
His treatment would be surgery to remove the kidney, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Right there and then, my heart sunk. First because the doctor confirmed my biggest fear. That my son had cancer. Second, how was I going to afford the cost of treatment?
The cost of treatment
This thought scared me.
Because, I am a single mother of 3 children and the only surviving member of my nuclear family. I had no formal employment income to rely on. I had no medical cover. I had to stop my casual labor kind of jobs to take care of my baby. This meant, I could not provide for my other children and meet other bills. Including the hospital bill.
The cost of surgery was Kshs 140,000 ($1,400). This was huge. I relied on well-wishers to raise some money to pay this bill. But, I managed to raise Kshs 45,000 ($450) only. This was a drop in the ocean.
This is not all. I was to face another setback.
When, in December 2016, health workers at public hospitals went on strike. This meant, we had to exit the hospital. The management demanded that we check out and seek treatment elsewhere.
I was struggling to raise money, to treat my son in a public hospital, how could afford a private hospital?
But I was determined to see my son through treatment.
Thanks to Hope for Cancer Kids
While at the hospital, a social worker introduced me to Hope for Cancer Kids (HCK). An organization whose aim is to realize comprehensive pediatric cancer care in Kenya for every child and family as they walk through the cancer journey.
A staff of HCK assessed my situation and offered to pay for Morrison’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). HCK paid a full annual premium of Kshs 6000 ($60). This meant Morison would receive treatment even at a private facility after a waiting period of 2 months.
This was a big relief and timely.
I continued with my treatment at Texas Cancer Center (TCC). This time, using my NHIF card. The medical cover took care of all costs, tests, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and any other form of medication.
For example, Morison underwent 15 sessions of Radiotherapy at a cost of $100 each. I did not pay any cash. NHIF paid it in full. I don’t know what I would have done without HCK.
We weren’t prepared for the life after diagnosis. But slowly things started to fit into place. Hope for Cancer Kids in Kenya do amazing work. Offering clinical and psycho-social support to children with cancer and their families.
I hope that HCK reaches out to many children especially in rural areas. To create awareness about childhood cancer, promote early diagnosis and treatment and empower/train primary caregivers.
6 years’ cancer free
My son is healed. Medication has stopped. His hair has grown. I am so happy. I don’t know what to say, but to thank God for bringing HCK my way.
Now he just has regular check-ups and has CT scan to check his body organs. The last one year has been truly amazing watching Morrison grow into a handsome lovely boy.
He is a happy healthy 6-year-old little boy; he has a lot of friends in school and out of school. He tries extra hard with school and with the help of everyone, Morrison does keep up. He recently graduated to join standard 1 next year-2018
I hope to give back to HCK. To create awareness about childhood cancer and promote early diagnosis and treatment.