4
February
#WorldCancerDay
#WeCanICan

Sallie. Kenya

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My name is Sallie, you may have heard my story or not. First, I am grateful to be alive, healthy and well. Many of you who meet me for the first time might not realize that this has not always been the case. Allow me to briefly share my story. I hope it not only inspires, but compels you to action.

Over 16 years ago, a series of events led to the loss of my husband and two children. Just when I thought I was done with the hurt and the pain, I was diagnosed with stage II Cervical Cancer. This was the beginning of a long, rough and many times uncertain journey. The sights and sounds of hospital rooms and corridors became common place, the agony of being stigmatized by those I thought I could depend on only added salt to my open wounds, I had reached the end of my tether!

Many of those I have known on this journey have either passed away, or are in circumstances much worse than what I have been through.  Many of those I know got their diagnosis when it was too late to change the tide. Cancer does not have to be a death sentence. As a victor, my experience revealed that indeed, Cancer is curable. Though I remain with lifetime scars, which are not always physical; but just to let you know that I have to walk around with a special bag also known as a colostomy bag that collects my stool. I need two per day and each costs USD10 each.

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The support of family, friends and many times, strangers give me belief and hope in humanity. When we support each other, the burden is much lighter. This global cancer burden CAN be reduced. Early diagnosis, easy access to treatment facilities and support groups for all people struggling with this disease can be a reality. I has been five years now since I joined Stoma World Kenya – a colorectal cancer group that is affiliated to the Kenya Cancer Association (KENCASA) a non-profit organization composed of volunteers – as a cancer advocate.

Why I Speak – “The best warrior is not the one who always wins the battles but the one who is not afraid to go back to the battlefield!”. I suffered from cancer and came out of it a warrior so my plea to every single person, no matter the sex, the age or the is: “Now is the time to act”, “It is time to beat this disease. I strongly believe this is possible, if you and I come together and make that decision”.