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 Health  Kenya Project #20120

Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery

by Faraja Cancer Support Trust
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Cancer in Kenya: Giving a real chance of recovery
Napot ( left), Naima (centre) and Grace ( right)
Napot ( left), Naima (centre) and Grace ( right)

Monica's Story

Monica, 40, mother to Napot says that he used to cry a lot as a newborn. She has other older children, but they were not as fussy as Napot when he was a baby. "He will calm down when he grows up," she would say to herself and true to form he stopped crying until August 2018, a few months after his third birthday, he started crying again this time day and night.  Frustrated by his inability to identify what his problem was, Maureen one day stripped him naked him and checked him all over. She noticed with horror that his stomach had a lump, a hard mass that she had never been there before. She informed her husband who advised her to take him to the women in the village for a tummy massage, a common cultural practice.

Monica chose to take him to the hospital instead.  Accompanied by one of her older daughters, she went to the nearest hospital in Kapenguria, West Pokot County.  After a physical examination, the medical personnel referred Napot to another hospital in Kitale. They went back home, borrowed busfare and went to Kitale the following day. In Kitale, they did a thorough physical assessment and referred her to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret. Monica called her husband and together, they sourced for money and travelled to Eldoret.

At MTRH, Napot was admitted and had tests done. The results revealed that he had cancer of the kidney known as nephroblastoma, a common cancer among children. He went through surgery to remove the tumour and has 6 cycles of chemotherapy treatment which was catered for by government insurance ( NHIF).  His consulting doctor however advised that he should have radiotherapy treatment done which, at that time,  was only available in Nairobi.

Caroline's Story

In September of 2018, 5-year-old Naima was her usual playful self, running around their home in Busia town, Western Kenya, when she fell down. She could not stop crying, saying that her stomach hurt a lot.  Her mother, Caroline, 34, believed that a stone might have hurt Naima and that the pain would eventually subside. It did not. After a night of crying, Caroline took Naima to the hospital the following morning. Naima was still crying in pain. Tests did not reveal anything, though the doctor noticed a lump on Naima’s tummy.

A different doctor, on examining Naima recommended further tests at a different hospital. She informed Caroline that she suspected Naima had cancer of the kidney but that this would be best diagnosed at MTRH  in Eldoret. The doctor ordered an ambulance to take them from Busia to Eldoret, where tests confirmed the kidney cancer diagnosis. Thankfully the ambulance was covered by NHIF.

Naima stayed in the hospital for six weeks and underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatment. Caroline is a housewife while her husband is a casual worker. He had taken the NHIF cover which paid for Naima’s treatment. But when they were informed that they needed to pay for radiotherapy treatment in Nairobi, Caroline and her husband felt helpless.

The meeting of in Nairobi

Faraja works closely with a social worker at MTRH called Sandra. Sandra referred both Napot and Naima's case to us for possible consideration of funding. After review from the Faraja Medical Support Fund panel, our Patient Support Manager Phillip called Sandra and gave her the good news, their entire radiotherapy treatment would be catered for by Faraja.

“There was no way to raise the money for radiotherapy. We also did not know anyone in Nairobi. When we got the call from Faraja, I felt like God gave me another chance to raise my son again. I can only ask God to bless the Faraja family because they gave me hope. Without their intervention, I know things would have been really bad.” Says Caroline.

“The thought that my son will look healthy again gives me peace of mind and I know that he shall be completely healed,” Monica says, adding that Faraja should continue touching more lives.

Caroline and Monica met for the first time at a bus stop in downtown Nairobi at 6 am on 7th November 2018. Since they were housed at the same hostel, they became close friends and their children even closer. During the day, Napot and Naima would hold hands as they walked into the hospital, smiling shyly, as they sauntered to the nurse's desk. At night, they would play together until late, much to the chagrin of their sleepy mothers.

As per the date of publishing this article, we learnt that Naima is doing well but sadly Napot's tumour recurred and metastasized to the brain. 

Our Trustees and donor celebrating a milestone
Our Trustees and donor celebrating a milestone

For the eight years that Faraja has been in existence, we have successfully provided emotional support to patients and their care givers through our free complementary therapies, information, support groups, art and music therapy for children with cancer and most recently, through financial assistance. 

However, the need for timely and good medical intervention is still paramount, especially now that the number of patients diagnosed with cancer has risen from 20,000 to 40,000 annually. The waiting list at Kenya's largest Referral Hospital ,the Kenyatta National Hospital,  can be long and government insurance does not cover all the costs. Most patients cannot afford to pursue treatment in private hospitals because of financial reasons. For these reasons, the Faraja Medical Support Fund  (FMSF) was launched on 12th November 2016 to provide financial assistance to patients in Kenya. FMSF is a corpus of funds that when invested will assist 50 patients every year forever.

The money raised for the Medical Support Fund has primarily been sourced from various supporters, sponsors and events. Initially,Faraja conducted a pilot project for the fund in 2014 from donations received from Faraja friends and supporters. The Pilot funded 86 patients at a cost of Shs 9,924,120 and 90% of these patients are doing well. 

From October 2017 we started using the funds from the FMSF. Shs 7,133,698  ($70,000) was available for support and we financially assisted 43 patients at a cost of Shs 3,771,982 ($ 30,000)  and 84% of the patients are doing well.

On Wednesday 14th November, the FMSF reached a milestone where, with a donation of $50,000 from one of our donors,  the fund achieved its initial target of $ 1million

Despite achieving this milestone, there is still  a lot more that needs to be done to assist more patients every year. The more the medical fund grows, the more patients we are able to assist. 

On behalf of Faraja Cancer Support Trust, we would like to thank each and every one of you for supporting us in achieving our milestone.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Faraja.

Dear Crafts for Cure Supporter, 

We are so excited to report on an impactful project that we hope, will be an annual event in our Crafts for Cure calendar. 

Through the American Cancer Society's SOURCE program (Strengthening Organization for United Response to Cancer Epidemic), Faraja received a grant for an amazing project: The Art Master Class. 

The Art Master Class aims to engage with inpatient children at Kenyatta National Hospital's pediatric oncology ward 1E in a one month fine arts training course. The ward accommodates about 28 children from ages 6-13. The class aims to benefit the children by imparting professional sketching, drawing and painting skills as well as introducing them to the world of fine arts: a plausible profession.

We started off with a trial class on the 30th of May 2018 to familiarize the children with basic art technology such as primary and secondary colours, sketching and types of paints. The Art Master Class team decided it would be best to incorporate the theme of Hope during the classes so as to ensure the children also received art therapy as they underwent treatment for various forms of cancer. Hope is important for any cancer patient to have, regardless of their age. 

The sessions were very well received and surpassed our expectations. The children expressed a willingness to learn more about art and painting. Since it was their first time being taught art by professionals, it took time for them to warm up to the idea of imaginative drawing and painting instead of copying their friends work. By the second class, the children began to draw and paint their own pieces.

At the end of the one month master class, five talented children were picked for the final project: a painting of their favourite dream. These paintings were framed and are to be auctioned to willing supporters. The starting bid for each art piece is 20,000 Kenyan Shillings (about USD 200)  

It is important to note that the Art Master Class was different from our regular art therapy classes. The Master Class worked on individual skills, the classes were more technical and artistic terminology was used and superior materials were used such as, acrylic paints, poster colours and art paper. 

The outcome were these four amazing art works that have consequently been framed and are ready for auction. 

Being the first time, we have learnt a lot and are keen to do it again next year. It proved to be a unique way of allowing the children to express themselves and it also inspired some of the children to pursue art as a profession. However no project is without its challenges.  Some of the children could not work on their own due to the side effects of chemotherapy treatment, others were discharged from hospital and sadly, a few succumbed to their illness. 

These art pieces are a testament to the ingenuity and creative prowess of children who, regardless of the odds, will always joyfully give a piece of themselves in glorious colouring. Each brush stroke represents their determination to fight a disease that may have ravaged their bodies but not their spirit. 

We look forward to having another art master class next year.

Links:

Faraja is a safehaven for cancer patients in Kenya
Faraja is a safehaven for cancer patients in Kenya

Grace is a single mother of two children. She was leading a normal life, albeit in economic strain as she is a peasant farmer and erks a living through casual work. Her youngest child is only 11 years old. 

It therefore came as a shock to her and her family when after excessive and continuous menstrual bleeding, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer, stage one. She had, before this incident never experienced any ill health.  Unfortunate for her, her diagnosis came at a time when Kenyan doctors were on a Nationwide strike hence hampering medical services. She could not afford private hospital fees and was forced to fundraise for a hysterectomy( surgical removal of her uterus).

Her friends and family came to her aid and she was able to have the surgery done. Regardless of having a National Health Insurance Fund cover ( NHIF) she still needed financial assistance as the state owned health insurance only caters for 25% of chemotherapy and radiotherapy costs.

“I knew that there was no way I could have treatment done because I had no money.” Grace says, further adding that her eldest child, 22 was jobless and has no tertiary training to secure employment.

Spurred by the thoughts of her children, she got the courage to talk to the doctors a private hospital. 

One of the doctors advised her to apply for financial assistant with Faraja and she received a positive response within two weeks. 

“Without Faraja, I would never have afforded this treatment that saved my life and gave me a second chance to take care of my children.” Grace says.

During the course of this interview, Grace was on a 6 week break from chemotherapy and was set to resume radiotherapy treatment.

“I feel healthy, awesome, I can even travel by myself unaided.”

What advice would she give anyone newly diagnosed with cancer?

“I would tell anyone feeling ill to seek medical help promptly, to take heart if it turns out to be cancer, because it is treatable. ”

 

About the Faraja Medical Support Fund

Faraja Cancer Support Trust launched the Faraja Medical Support Fund (FMSF)  on 12th November 2016 with the aim of developing an effective system which will enable adults and children with cancer to obtain the right treatment at the right time. This brings hope and real chance of recovery. The mission is to galvanise the support of a small but powerful group with the vision and capacity to come together and make a meaningful and long lasting impact by making sizable donations into the fund.

The treatment that Faraja funds is provided at  private and government institutions in Nairobi.  Faraja aims to raise Kshs 100,000,000 (US$1,000,000). A corpus of funds that, when invested, will ensure up to 50 patients receive treatment every year. The fund will cover medical costs such as surgery, brachetherapy , chemotherapy, radiation and hormonal therapy. The beneficiaries will be required to cover the initial consultation and the first 10% of the treatment plan. To qualify for a grant, individuals will submit an application form which will be vetted monthly by members of an expert panel. The selection criteria will be based on the financial status of the applicant, type of cancer, prognosis and age.

Links:

Amina is one of the beneficiaries of the Fund
Amina is one of the beneficiaries of the Fund

Greetings from Faraja Cancer Support Trust.

You are receiving this as a contributor to the Faraja Medical Support Fund or because we feel that you maybe interested in knowing more about the Fund.

For the eight years that Faraja has been in existence, we have witnessed many patients leave our facility feeling better than when they walked in. The need and role for information, complementary therapies and support groups,  cannot be understated. A special thanks to our staff, volunteers and therapists for ensuring that patients and their carers receive hope, help and life through our free services.

However, the need for timely and good medical intervention is still paramount, especially now that the number of patients diagnosed with cancer in Kenya has risen from 20,000 to 40,000 annually.

We are delighted to share with you that out of our initial target of Shs100m for the Fund we have raised Shs83m to date. The Trustees of Faraja would like to thank everyone who has made this possible.

We are also delighted to celebrate new partnerships with cancer organisations, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies who have come on board to assist us by offering treatment at a reduced cost or donating medication for treatment.

It is now, more than ever, that we need to do our bit to help patients like Jane, who can now confidently complete her treatment thanks to the support she received from the Fund. Read more about her here

With your support we would like to accelerate the pace at which we can save lives and reduce suffering by helping patients get access to healthcare. All gifts into the fund will be invested and the interest earned will ensure patients receive the right treatment at the right time.

I welcome the opportunity to talk with any individual or company who would like to become involved. We believe strongly that no one should have to face cancer alone. 

Thank you all for your support.
 
Shaira Adamali
Founding Trustee
Faraja Cancer Support Trust

 

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Organization Information

Faraja Cancer Support Trust

Location: Nairobi - Kenya
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @FarajaTrust
Project Leader:
Olivia Shah
Nairobi, Kenya
$56,068 raised of $71,218 goal
 
185 donations
$15,150 to go
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