“I lost hair under my right armpit”
Angie Leitch, is married and lives in Madrid, Spain. She has three children, Sean, 17, Tanya, 15 and 13 year old Dani.
Unlike many other cancer patients who experience hair loss after going through chemo therapy, Angie experienced a different kind of hair loss. “I was on capecitabine chemo pills and intravenous 5fu it has other names. Some people lose their hair on this same combination while others don’t. My oncologist did tell me of the possibility of hair loss but at the time I didn’t mind as all I wanted was to get well.” She however lost hair under he right armpit due to radiotherapy from August last year 2016 and it has never grown back.
Save for chemotherapy side effects such as neuropathy which is pain and tingling sensations to the hands and feet, low blood cell counts and fatigue, Angie’s hair on the head was left intact. “Here some women wear cold caps to prevent hair loss but I didn’t have that option.”
In June 2016, Angie Leitch had breast cancer surgery. Little did she know that another cancer awaited her a few months down the line. Gall bladder cancer. She wondered “Who gets such a rare cancer?” Since then, Angie has had a battery of surgeries, colonoscopy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, tomotherapy and endless blood tests culminating in successfully ending her cancerous tumours. This experience left her mortified. “I would not wish cancer upon anyone. The shadow of death continuously hangs over your head. Chemo and radiotherapy sucks the life out of you, but I am glad to be alive.”
“Our 4 years old son then, ran away from me when I went to pick him up from school because I was bald, he asked me to fix hair on my head”
Fridah Kisonzo, 48 years old, married and mother of two, a young lady and a boy, is an advocate of healthy living through food supplementation. She is also a cancer awareness ambassador.
After the diagnosis of cancer of the lymph nodes, (lymphoma), Fridah set off to India to seek second opinion. Amid a battery of tests, the doctors recommend 8 cycles of chemotherapy which she undertook. Three weeks into the treatment, her hair started to fall. “I had braided my hair and when I would hold it up, some pieces would fall off. At one time I was sitted at the hospital reception and some fell on the chair when I stood up.”
Her aunty shaved off what had remained of her hair to avoid further uncomfortable situations. “Back in Kenya, someone even asked me whether I had used Veeto because my head was so clean shaven.” She resorted to using wigs although they would get uncomfortable due to hot flashes she experienced caused by chemo therapy. Eventually her hair started growing back into its former silky and beautiful. The hair she lost under her armpits has never grown back though.
This was the second time tragedy was striking home for Fridah who was first diagnosed in April 2011. One and a half years before then, the family had lost a 9 year old daughter.
She now sells natural herbal supplements such as moringa, spirulina and honey among others, not only recommended to cancer patients but everyone because of their health benefits. “After treatment and cure, I had a recurrence after six months. I adhered to my treatment regimens including chemotherapy again but also took these supplements which I believe helped.” Fridah is also a cancer awareness ambassador. “I want to thank God because he healed me. I have been cancer free from November 2012 to date.”
“The corn rows (lines) I had plaited after the second chemo therapy started falling off”
Nancy Rono, mother of three children and two sons in law. Works at Customer Care desk in a government education.
Nancys friends and family were in shock when she relayed the tragic news. That she had been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. Her son was mortified because his friends mother had died of breast cancer at around the time of her diagnosis. Her sister Betty Temba was traumatized especially because of the horror stories she had heard about chemotherapy. However, Nancy was prepared for chemotherapy and the hair loss that would follow. “After my second chemotherapy, the lines I had plaited starting falling of leaving spaces with no hair on my head. My son was very shocked. He helped me pluck off the rest of the lines with his hands.” After chemo therapy her hair started growing back in bits and pieces as she puts it until it eventually filled out again on her head.
What started as a routine medical check up for Nancy in 2016 due to subsidized prices at a private hospital, ended up being the beginning of her brief experience and journey with breast cancer. “A lump was found during the routine tests but the Doctor reassured me that it was benign. However my mother advised me to seek a second opinion.” She went for another scan which suggested she does fine needle biopsy and the results came back with cancer cells.
Despite her weight,which is on the higher side, she had undergone health check ups and was found to be sufficiently fit in most areas, ” I was not sick so the news shocked me, but I decided to have a positive attitude since it was discovered in its early stages, I knew it could be dealt with.” Nancy was so optimistic and hopeful that she ended up being the family ‘counselor’ who feared that she had been served a death sentence. “Even in India where I was accompanied by my sister for treatment, people often thought I was bringing another patient. “They would be shocked to learn that it was actually me seeking treatment because I seemed so jolly and in high spirits.”