I am sure you can tell I have a lotta free time now to faff…
This “story” is one of two stories I have had people ask me to share. I hope someday I have the courage and time to post the second story. That one go be like Nollywood movie. Anyways….
Annie Idibia had some pictures up today to raise awareness for Breast Cancer and I saw some downright stupid comments online. Anyways once again…..
I lost my paternal grandfather August 1, 2003. A few days before that, while having a bath, I felt a lump in my left breast. Felt it the first day and checked everyday hoping it woulda disappeared. I was in a very bad state by Day 5 and struggled with telling anybody what I had discovered. Fast forward about 10 days. Yes 10 good days, I called my mum into her room one Tuesday evening. Waited for her to return from church (mistake or what?). So I tell momma “be like say I get lump for breast” (def not in pidgin English) and typical Naija mum style, she starts to rebuke and practically tells me not to even think of that. Ah ah, ki lo ro debeyen (I have no idea how to interpret this in English) and all. And she is praying all sorts of prayers. Me? I am just there confused.
Mums tells pops later that night and pops says “well, the only way to find out if she is saying the truth is to take her to a doctor”. So we decide to go see a doctor the next morning.
Now you ask what I was even looking for on my breast ba? Well na my property. I had been kinda fascinated with breast cancer ish since I read about then popular footballer, Victor Ikpeba who lost his wife Tinuke to breast cancer. I remember that prior to that, stories on breast cancer always had some much older women that it became a myth, young women don’t have cancer. Till Ikpeba’s wife died. So I did a bit of research on breast cancer.
Fast forward a few years and I notice a lump. I say to myself “Debola, to think it is “this cancer thing” than will now kill you”.
Wednesday morning, we are at the hospital, first thing in the morning. Male doctor on duty. Mums says no. Male doctor cannot see my daughter (Naija mum in action). At that point, I couldn’t be bothered and asked that anybody on duty should attend to me. Doctor confirms there is a lump – a moving lump at that. He couldn’t ascertain if it is cancerous until further tests were done. I almost freaked. Got home and headed to the nearest cybercafe (yes it was cybercafe those days – at least during the day) and did a bit of research while imagining possible ways the cancer will kill me. I couldn’t pray, I couldn’t read for my exams. How I managed to pass the exams I have no idea.
Mums sister is a doctor. Mums and pops had discussed and pops requested a second opinion. So we waited for my aunty to return from her vacation. As usual, she is in Ibadan once she is back from her vacation. You need to see the look on her face when she called me to come into my parents room. I knew for sure I was dying. She did all the checks and gives the same result. She cannot confirm until further tests were done. I needed to come to Lagos as soon as possible. I had exams however so had to wait till my exams are done. Exams ended on a Monday, I was shipped to Lagos the next day.
Now I rode to Lagos with my grandma who you cannot hide anything from. The moment we stopped at her sister’s and I got asked why I was in Lagos when school was in session, my grandma’s ears caught it. She also had this “you are dying look”. Omo mehn by this time, I had just prepared myself. If it was cancer and it meant death… Oh well. However, how my parents, grandma and the entire family will feel was so heavy on my mind (especially with a recent death in the family), I told myself, no death mehn. Odeshi
All that encouragement came crumbling the moment I got to my aunty’s. So my cousin asks why I was in Lag and I tell him. His next words were “so you came to Lagos to die” – I remember that statement (till what part of the house we were when he said it) like it was said yesterday. I emotionally died a thousand times. Hours later, I was woken up to join a vigil. My aunty got these pastor friends of hers to come hold a vigil for me. You know I was so convinced I would die. Like there was nothing anyone will tell me differently. To make matters worse, vigil ends and Pastor Mrs decides to “encourage” me. She tells me a story of how her sister had a surgery and of the 7 patients in the ward scheduled for the same surgery, only her sister survived. Shoro niyen.
Wednesday morning. My aunty wakes me up. Surgery won’t hold today. We will do it on Thursday. Okay I said. Thursday morning. Sorry surgery won’t hold today. Friday morning. Sorry surgery won’t hold today. As you might have guessed. I freaked out and burst into tears. I was in negative emotionally. Finally called mums later that day. Wasn’t encouraging. Apparently, aunty too kinda was freaked out and wanted mums at least to be around during the surgery. Mums couldn’t get time off work at short notice and had to wait till work ended on Friday afternoon before heading to Lagos.
Finally, Saturday morning. We all head to the hospital. Surgery was scheduled for 8am. 9am we were yet to start. 9:30am. No show. 10am, no show. I was worried. Mums comes into ward and I ask why the delays. Apparently, my aunty wanted my dad in Lagos too (you see why doctors are not allowed to treat not to talk of operate on their family members?). Not sure if she was worried I will die and hence wanted my parents to see me before I died. I dunno.
Surgery started when it was confirmed my dad was close to Lagos. With my grandma. Yepa!!! By the time the anesthetic kicked in and I blanked out, pops and grandma were around. Fortunately, I woke up (Halleluyah) about an hour later to see everyone of them (my aunty’s husband had joined by then) staring at me.
Fortunately again, further tests on the lump revealed it was not cancerous. I went back to school. Asides my besties Ify and Tos, nobody else knew what happened. Life went on. Got back to realize a good friend and classmate for 12 years had been battling Ovarian Cancer. She died the following year.
Did I forget to mention, I was 15 when this happened?
Fast forward about 7 years. August 2010. About the same time I noticed the first one. I had kinda noticed another lump. This time – my right breast. And I tell myself, nah it can’t be. Never. Not again. Got a job November (about 10 days to my birthday) that year and was asked to go for medicals. Doctor (female this time, lol) decided to do a breast examination. She is done and she is giving me this deadly look. I get off the examination table, get dressed and she is about to give me the you have a lump, it might be cancer talk. I was so upset (I still don’t know why), I cut her off and tell her not to worry. I know the drill. Well it might not be cancer, just get it checked and removed as soon as possible. I had this ese, eku ife statement just at the tip of my tongue.
I get into my car and CRIED. Not again Lord, not again.
Called my mum and seriously I managed to get home through my tears. Told my aunty later that night and she fixes an appointment with the same doctor. Doctor however says he cannot do surgery as it was close to Christmas, he was traveling and all. Oh well, I had to wait till January, January 10. Surgery was even smoother than the first and mums was my only audience this time (thank God for mothers). However, I took almost 2 hours to wake up – mums don freak out sote. I had this sharp pains for the next 3 weeks. Dang, no amount of Ibuprofen could save me. Fortunately, I was good enough even with the pains to return to work after 2 weeks. Once again, it wasn’t cancer.
******************************************************************************************October is the breast cancer awareness month.
A lot of people still with all the many deaths and talk just don’t bother to get themselves checked.
I mean, a few months after my first surgery, during a female teens church class (we were being “educated” on health and hygiene and all), I stupidly “volunteered” to talk about my experience so others can be educated. Head Teens church teacher practically asked me to shut up. In her words “you don’t discuss such outside. How do you want people to look at you after today? Do you know the trauma cancer parents pass through?” Mogbe
January 2011, I decide to ask for days off work for the surgery and one of the HR babes asks why I needed day off as the year just started. I tell her and she goes “breast examination no concern her. She has never done it. She has no idea how it is done” and goes on to ask me if it was necessary to even get examined sef. How did you find out? she asked. The lady is about 5 years older than I am.
I read a lot of comments on people who had lost family members – sisters, mothers, aunties, friends to breast cancer and other forms of cancer and I can’t help but think, what if it was me!!!! Mehn, people are dying because a lot of people don’t detect it early. They don’t detect it early because they don’t check……… It is your breast. It is your body. CHECK IT!!!!
Ladies go get yourself checked. And check often. Won’t kill you. If you are married, let your husbands do the checking for you (if you no wan do am yourself). But seriously, checking doesn’t kill. It just might save your life.