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MP Ken Okoth: My stage 4 cancer has no cure

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MP Ken Okoth Health: Kibra Member of Parliament Ken Okoth has revealed that he is battling stage four cancer that has no cure.

The 41-year-old revealed that he has been battling colerectal cancer in an interview with the Sunday Standard.

“I was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer with metastases to the liver,” he told the paper.

Colorectal cancer comes when cancer develops from both the colon and rectum. 50 per cent of colorectal cancer patients develop metastasis disease of the liver, which are tumour growths in the liver, spread from cancer causing cells in some part of the body.

The Sunday Standard further reports that for over a year, Okoth presented symptoms of ulcers, at times bacterial infections and that is what he was being treated for.

“He was even put on drugs to manage stress. Okoth says that all that time, he was battling abdominal pain and weight loss. By the time his doctor ordered some advanced scans, the cancer was found at stage four. It was shocking news to his family,” the paper reports.

Below is the full report on Ken Okoth as it appeared in the Sunday Standard:

“The fear of the unknown that accompanies a cancer diagnosis is immense. Cancer changes your life completely,” he says.

Last year, Okoth was put through vigorous treatment that involved combined radio- and chemotherapy to avert the impending risk of organ failure.

He responded well, he says, but that was just the beginning of his long-term treatment. Considering his cancer was discovered at stage four, he will have to take medication for life – a tablet each day.

“I will be using chemotherapy tablets that I can take every morning. Because my disease was discovered at a very advanced stage; it cannot be cured. It can only be managed,” he says.

Okoth admits that getting treatment for advanced cancer is not easy in the country, a challenge he has had to deal with himself upon recommendation by his doctors in Nairobi.

He was given two options where he could seek advanced care for his liver: the US or Europe. He settled for Europe.

“I could not afford the US because it was too expensive. My wife is from Europe, where the cost is more affordable and I could get a residence permit quickly for the duration of the treatment. Sadly, not everyone is as lucky; we need to make cancer care in Kenya a national priority,” he says.

Statistics by the Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations, show that at least 40,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year. At the same time, there are 27,000 deaths.

Okoth says the country must endeavour to invest in human resource, equipment and medicine to enable access of cancer treatment.

Okoth says imported cancer drugs should be zero rated and value added tax on equipment like computerised tomography (CT) scans removed.

“The cost of cancer treatment is very expensive. Many families go into bankruptcy and sell all their investments to have it,” he says. “One of the major expenses is the cost of moving away from home closer to your place of treatment and the lost income of a family member who becomes the primary caregiver.”

Above all, a national campaign on preventive lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol, diets and exercise will go a long way. These, the MP says, should be accompanied with regular check-ups to enable early diagnosis.

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