Janet Kanini Ikua has beat the odds to tell her story of surviving cancer. She was diagniosed with stage-four lung cancer, the same ailment that killed her father.
In a candid social media post, Janet Kanini narrates the behind the scenes of what she went through from the first day, the cancer news was dropped like a bomb in her life.
One year ago my India doctor walked into my hospital room at Indraprastha Apollo hospital New Delhi. He announced that my PET scan results confirmed that I had stage 4 lung cancer. The primary site was the suspicious lung lesion/mass that had baffled us for long, and the cancer had now spread to my liver, abdomen, bones and lymph nodes. He left the room and my husband followed him. Outside he told him that I had six months to live, maximum a year, and that he would do his part and treat me BUT I had to do my part and have the will to live. I was confused – crying, asking hubby ‘What do you mean stage 4? From where? Since when?’ After which I walked to the mirror and said ‘I don’t look like a stage 4. You mean I have what Tata had?” 8 and a half years ago my father got the same diagnosis, and a year later he died. He hung on long enough to escort me down the aisle in a wheelchair, breathing out of an oxygen tank, and then 2 weeks after my wedding, he passed on. So the picture I had of stage 4 was from months of seeing him lose weight, lose appetite, be so sick, with frustrated children who didn’t know what else to do for him… I was very confused. Were my 5 and 2 year old babies going to watch me as I watched him? Maybe it would be better if I just ‘left’…to spare them the heartbreak and expense? I didn’t want to take food from my babies’ mouths because of medical bills. I asked hubby to leave me alone that night so I could be alone with my thoughts, but all I could do was cry. A nurse who was wonderfully kind told me that God was with me. I was frustrated, because I thought that I had already faced the worst medical news months before in June when I was admitted into HDU/ICU for 11 days with multiple blood clots in the heart and lungs that ordinarily kill people instantly. And then here I am in India not only being told about cancer stage 4 but that there is also a blood clot sitting in my heart, almost 2cm big, and that hopefully it won’t move from the heart muscle leading to a heart attack and again the word – death. I wondered how many times a human being should be told they’re facing death in the span of 6 months. Death from things inside the body that I couldn’t even see! It’s easier to deal with something that you can touch and see. Well, the blood clot remained in the heart muscle throughout chemotherapy, slowly reducing in size. A constant reminder that truly my life is in God’s Hands -He kept the clot from moving to where it would hurt me.
This may sound strange but one advantage to being diagnosed with a terminal illness is that you get a chance to get right with God, or Allah for my Muslim brothers and sisters. You have time to recall your life, to repent for wrongs done, to seek forgiveness from others and forgive them too. To find that peace that surpasses all human understanding because now you know that you’re ready to go home. That wonderful, magnificent, final home where there is no more pain, or chemo side effects, or doubt, or fear. So even as you believe for healing, keep yourself spiritually strong and ready to be taken to your final resting place at any moment, because we have our desires but God has His plans that are for our greater good. Be ready.
In the past 365 days I have learnt that medical statistics are not God’s statistics. 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we walk by faith not by sight.” So do not be discouraged by what CT / MRI / bone scans and tumour markers show. Nor the statistics on Google searches. Nor the memories of fulani wa fulani na so-and-so who died last year, as told to you by your family/friends/colleagues. The cancer journey is a lonely one. Difficult. Scary. Intimidating. It makes you question your faith. It makes you too exhausted to pray. It makes you cry – a lot. It breaks down a man, makes him scared, causes him to be angry at the world because he isn’t the strong jogoo of the home that society expects him to be. Some of you have shared your stories, and I know that this journey is hard for spouses. Please don’t abandon your husband / wife in their time of need. Remember your vows – “For better or worse, in sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, till death do you part.” Sacred vows made before God.