With Joke Adeniyi-Jackson
The gloom that enveloped the house was such that could be sliced with a knife. Members of the household worn forlorn countenance. The naked fear and despair in their eyes jumped at me and my heart sank at sight of the cause of their sadness.
They are burdened by the health condition of their wife/mother, Madam Felicia Akeju, who has been writhing in excruciating pain induced by breast cancer. The life- threatening ailment has caused the 60-year-old woman so many traumas over the years.
Her eyes were bloodshot from consistent weeping, her frail frame and almost inaudible voice tell tale of the agony that Madam Akeju is passing through. The once beautiful woman has been ravaged by the disease and consequently, her body emaciated.
She has been weighed down by the pain and agony caused by the debilitating illness. For the mother of five, the torments are myraid; physical, psychological, emotional and financial.
Ever since my visit to the victim’s Fufu road, Sabo Oke residence in Ilorin, Kwara State capital on Tuesday, the sight of the pathetic state of Madam Akeju has continued to haunt me as it lingers in my memory, hence this piece to call public attention to her pitiable plight.
The journey of a gruelling rebirth started for the Ilesha, Osun State woman almost a decade ago when she was diagnosed of the much dreaded cancer. Her world came crumbling day she was diagnosed with the disease knowing the huge financial demands for a victim to survive.
According to her, paucity of fund prevented her from getting immediate medical help until the affected breast became ulcerated. Consequently, she had to undergo a mastectomy with the breast cut off through surgery three years ago.
At the time she felt the worst was over, her condition relapsed with the cancerous growth spreading to the second breast. This was as a result of her inability to undergo the recommended cancer therapy- Chemotherapy and radiotherapy by an oncologist as a result of the family’s financial incapability.
Currently she is faced with the possibility of another mastectomy to remove the second breast in a bid to save her from the jaws of death.
Speaking in an emotion laden voice, she said the disease has thrown the family into abject poverty as all her proceeds from her trading business had been exhausted while her pensioner husband has spent all his life saving trying to get her cure. Coping with the cost of treatment has remained a constant challenge for the family. However, despite the pain, one could see the determination to survive in Madam Akeju’s face but she needs financial lifeline to achieve that.
Incontrovertibly, treatment of cancer cost fortunes, therefore the need for huge financial support especially for the less privileged afflicted with the disease.
Unfortunately, what Madam Akeju enjoy in good supply is words of encouragement and comfort, which is not enough for her survival.
For her survival, she has to undergo mastectonomy, series of chemotherapy CT scan, radiotherapy and miscellaneous treatments, which does not come cheap.
Findings reveal that the CT scan goes for about N70, 000 with mestectonomy going for between N80, 000 to N150 in public health institutions while chemotherapy ranges from N100, 000 to N300, 000.
The question that has been agitating minds of Madam Akeju’s loved one is, where will help come from?
Life has been miserable and the cancer victim desires a new lease of life. She believes life is more important than her two breasts.
There is no doubting the fact that the high cost of treatment has occasioned the death of many women, especially the poor, from cancer.
A look at the ulcerated breast, suggests that the cancer is in advanced stage, hence need for urgent help to save her life.
The family is presently concerned about the possibility of losing their loved one if help does not come in good time.
This is therefore an appeal for assistance from good spirited people, philanthropists, Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) like the Leah Foundation to come to the aid of this victim of cancer. Breast cancer is one of the core programmes of the foundation, which is a brainchild of Kwara First Lady, Deaconess Omolewa Ahmed. Mrs. Ahmed is known to be passionate about helping people living with cancer by facilitating treatment for women diagnosed with the disease.
In a recent interview, the first Lady said the loss of loved ones to cancer inspired her advocacy. The Akeju family is going through similar traumatic experience nursing the fear of losing a loved one and crying out for help.
This should also serve as a call to the Helping Hands International (H2i), a nongovernmental organisation, to help restore hope of a new life to Madam Akeju as done for other victims with similar cases. Such humanitarian intervention is highly desired at this time by the Akeju family that has been plunged into penury as a result of the health condition of their wife and mother.
She needs the sum of N2million to live; to get her back on her feet.
For any support or assistance, please call her daughter, Mary on 08102130182 or Pastor Toyin Oyekorode, 08034788696.
There is a popular Yoruba axiom: ” Enikeni ti Iwo ba nipa lati se iranlowo fun ohun na lenikeji re, toju re,” which literally means anyone you have capacity to assist is your brother/sister, care for him /her. Help save a soul; give Madam Akeju back her life.