HEALTH: How Wanza won over cancer

Violet Mbuvi, Cancer Warrior. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Success stories about overcoming different life’s stumbling blocks have always been a psychological forward push to those facing similar or related setbacks.

The story of how Violet Wanza Mbuvi, a cancer warrior, veteran journalist and former head of Mwatu FM radio station, was diagnosed with cancer and how she fought it, is one that every ear should hear.

In May 2020, she started feeling sickly. In one of the occasions with friends, she felt unwilling to join them for a meal, because she felt unhealthy at that time. She had a taste of the meal, however, and this made the difference.

Signs and symptoms

Minutes after the small meal, she developed stomach complications and went to seek medical attention three days later. 

The first medical test revealed the presence of ketones in the body – substances the body makes if the cells don’t get enough glucose (blood sugar).

She was put under medication.

“During the first week, I lost around 4 kilograms and by the time I was going for the next checkup a week later, I had lost another 4 kilograms of body weight,” Wanza recalls.

During the next check-up, Wanza, who is also diabetic, was found to be having unstable sugar levels and the doctors started searching for the reason, which would later reveal the underlying sickness.

At Upperhill Medical Centre, Nairobi, she was admitted twice for further medical attention and monitoring.

For two weeks, the sickness remained unidentified.

“I started scrubbing myself and the itching part would become a sore. My body also started turning yellow,” she narrates.

This being the third admission yet unsuccessful, even after numerous tests, she requested her attending doctor to get her the best internist – a doctor specialized in internal organs.

Tests and diagnosis

A day later, the specialist did an endoscopy, which revealed a cancerous tumor under the bile duct, which had been affecting the proper release of the bile.

An autopsy to determine the condition of the tumor revealed it to be an ampullary cancer. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, ampullary cancer is a rare type of carcinoma (invasive malignant tumor) that forms in an area of the body called the ampulla of Vater.

The ampulla of Vater is a small opening located where your bile duct and pancreatic duct join.

Treatment

Treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

According to Mayo Clinic, the Whipple procedure is used to treat tumors and other disorders of the pancreas, intestine and bile duct. It is the most often used surgery to treat pancreatic cancer that’s confined to the head of the pancreas.

A Whipple procedure, also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy — is a complex operation to remove the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), the gallbladder and the bile duct.

After performing the Whipple procedure, your surgeon reconnects the remaining organs to allow you to digest food normally after surgery.

“We started searching for doctors to carry out the procedure.

After many options, I chose Dr. Gladwel Kiarie, an Oncologist from the Nairobi Hospital, for her velvet touch to patients.

I felt that it would be easy to resonate with her,” she explains.

Dr. Kiarie referred her to Agha Khan Hospital for a PET Scan, which revealed the size and spreading speed of the tumor.

As per Mayo Clinic, a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that can help reveal the metabolic or biochemical function of tissues and organs.

The PET scan uses a radioactive drug (tracer) to show both normal and abnormal metabolic activity.

A PET scan can often detect the abnormal metabolism of the tracer in diseases before the disease shows up on other imaging tests, such as computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

“Though I thought I might have to go to India for the procedure, they told me that it can be done here in Kenya, to my relief,” Wanza says.

The process takes a long time and needs a lot of money.

By now, the health insurance cover had got depleted yet the procedure and medication needed around Ksh. 2.5m.

Her family organized for a fundraiser, raised the funds with the help of different agencies, media departments, personalities and friends and in less than two months, she got the required finances.

After many rounds of radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions for some months, the cancerous tumor was removed and she has been doing well.

Winning the battle

In September 2021, over a year since after the diagnosis, she was declared cancer free, having won the battle!

Cognizant of people’s misconceptions and attitude towards cancer, “Many have tagged it as a death sentence, but it is not,” she affirms.

She champions for early diagnosis and proper treatment, which saves the lives of many people.

Wanza recognizes the efforts which the Kenyan government has put in combating cancer. She feels that it should offer a helping hand to cancer patients all the more.

“I’m very grateful to all those who supported me during the fundraisers for their help.

I encourage Kenyans to continue offering such help to the many others among us who are in need,” she says.

In a scintillating flashback, she appreciates the assistance accorded to her by her colleagues and former workmates in the media: KBC, Iconic, Association of Professional Broadcasters (APB) and others, for their love and financial support during the period of treatment.

“As they can see me, I think I’m now looking better than before. I feel healed,” she confesses.

Wanza encourages all those who have been battling different sicknesses to cheer up.

“Put God at the forefront and He will prove Himself faithful and reliable to you. Stop the worries that you’re dying tomorrow, be positive about the treatment, follow the doctor’s advice and you will heal quickly,” she urges.

Editor’s Note

This feature is based on a story covered, produced and uploaded by Jackline Lidubwi on her YouTube Channel @J.Lidubwi.

YOU CAN ALSO READ: Survivor: I overcame Gender Based Violence to tell a story

Jane Theuri: How I beat disability and climbed ladder of success

Previous articleInside Michelle Obama’s head: In Her Own Words
Next articleGovernment to employ 3,000 trainers for TVET institutions
Mr. Makau holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, Media & Communication from Moi University, Kenya. He is a Columnist and Editor with Scholar Media Africa, with a keen interest in Education, Health, Climate Change, and Literature.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.