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Man beats stage 2 cancer after undergoing 24-hour operation

A 36-year-old man from Kericho county has survived the killer cancer disease after undergoing chemotherapy.

In an interview with KNA, Benard Otieno, a security officer employed by a blue chip company in Kericho Town says he is happy that he is fully recovered from esophagus cancer that had progressed to stage two after he was diagnosed three years ago.

Strong as ever, the father of two decided to share his personal and unique experience to encourage and help raise awareness of others suffering from the disease.

When Otieno was diagnosed with esophagus cancer, he was hopeful and anticipated a few months of treatment and an immediate recovery.

He was soon to find out that the treatment was challenging and had to go through a series of six chemotherapy sessions as well as a 24-hour-long surgery.

“In January 2020 I started experiencing ulcer-like symptoms and when I went to the hospital I was treated for ulcers after I experienced burning sensations in my stomach and feeling pain when swallowing solid and liquid food. I took medications for six months and all the symptoms were eradicated,” said Otieno.

He revealed that he went back to his doctor when he started experiencing pain when swallowing food who recommended an X-ray whose results revealed his narrowing esophagus.

He continued: “In October the ulcer symptoms disappeared, but while eating food I was not able to swallow but I would vomit it, the feeling would be like having food getting stuck down my gullet and this was very painful. The thought of hunger was agonizing as I would eat but food would just not go down. An X-ray done revealed that I had a narrowing esophagus.”.

“I was referred to Tenwek Mission Hospital in October for an endoscopy procedure and the following month a biopsy was done. The biopsy sample was taken to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) for examination. In January 2021 the results were out which revealed I had cancer of the esophagus.” added Otieno.

A medical report following an endoscopy procedure from Tenwek Mission Hospital dated 29 December 2021 showed that Otieno had a worrying growth building along his esophagus.

“With progressive dysphasia and abnormal esophageal showing a tight structure in the distal esophagus but proximal in EG junction. EGD exam showed the same with features suggestive of infiltration and minimal bulky features to the stricture.”

On 20 January 2022 Otieno traveled to Tenwek Mission Hospital after receiving a call that his biopsy test results from KNH had arrived and was to present himself at the medical facility to know his fate. He said that he went alone to see the doctor and the bad news was that he had stage two cancer of the esophageal.

Esophageal cancer is a type of cancer affecting the esophagus (gullet) the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

“At first I saw death, but as the doctor explained everything I just went into prayer and asked God to heal me,” recounts Otieno.

He walked back to his motorcycle hoping to break the news to his wife while attempting to understand the medical procedures he was to undergo which were all foreign to him.  Otieno said the medic at Tenwek stated it was obvious that he undergoes three chemotherapy sessions then surgery and then back to three more chemotherapy sessions to slow down the growing cancer cells.

“My wife Everlyn  Nyaboke could not believe what I told her, but she affirmed that  God will not leave my side and we went into prayer sessions with my pastor together with church members.  I went for my first chemotherapy session in March 2021 and after three months I went for the second one in June and later I completed my last chemotherapy session in October 2021.  I experienced severe loss of appetite, I would vomit anything I tried to eat or drink, and developed serious fatigue from the chemotherapy which lasted a week,” Otieno painfully recounted.

In March 2022 Otieno recalls a phone call from a medic at Tenwek Mission Hospital in Bomet County informing him that he was booked to undergo an operation after undergoing an endoscopy whose results revealed that the tumor was still present but reduced in size and necessitated surgery to remove it.

“I was now scheduled for surgery at Tenwek Mission Hospital on 14 July 2022 which would cost Sh 600,000.

My employer assisted in meeting part my surgery expenses with Sh 110,000, my National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover package for surgery gave me Sh 250,000 while Tenwek Hospital waived the rest,” revealed Otieno.

Otieno braved a 24-hour long operation an experience he narrates was haunting.

“This was my first operation in my life and when the surgeon asked me if he would pray for me it is when I realized my life was hanging in the balance,” narrated Otieno.

Doctors revealed to him that his surgery took 24 hours before waking up with all manner of tubes sticking out of his mouth and chest. He was discharged on 7 August 2022 and after completing his second chemotherapy session in November 2023 he was declared cancer free disclosed Otieno.

“In January 2023 I went for a check-up where I had my surgery stitches removed and come March 2023 I started my second cycle of chemotherapy with my first session then in May 2023 I had my second session and my last was in July 2023. In November 2023 I was sent to KNH for my Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan and after three days I went back to Tenwek Hospital to check the sent results which indicated I was free from cancer. I have been visiting Tenwek Mission Hospital for check-ups and so far all is well and I am grateful to God for my healing. ” revealed Otieno.

Now cancer-free for the last three months, Otieno has been motivating others living with cancer and is grateful that he went through the painful journey to give hope to others today.

By Sarah Njagi

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