Birthday gift saved me from cervical cancer, says Caroline
A birthday gift to herself was just what saved Caroline Ng’ang’a’s life. Caroline, a cervical cancer survivor, said a decision to undergo a pap smear changed her life completely.
“I had always wanted to undergo a pap smear. In 2012 as I was turning 27, I thought it was something I would give myself as a birthday gift. I went to Meridian Hospital for the test and you can imagine how horrified I was when the results showed that I had CIN 1 (cervical interstitial neoplasia 1) and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) low risk.
At that time I had no idea what that meant but I learnt later that it was a premalignant state that could progress into cancer,” she said.
To get a second opinion, she went for further tests at MP Shah Hospital and another private clinic in town. The results were the same.
She was then referred to Dr Yamal Patel at Aga Khan Hospital where she underwent colposcopy and HPV DNA tests. Colposcopy involves a close examination of the cervix, vagina and vulva for signs of disease.
The tests were positive, with several cancerous strains. The infection had spread to her uterus and had progressed into cervical cancer.
“At Aga Khan Hospital, I had an operation called laparoscopy hysterectomy, where my uterus was removed,” said the mother of one.
The diagnosis and treatment, she said, cost her about Sh1 million.
Her greatest challenge is that she cannot bear children and no longer has periods.
“I now eat healthy and totally cut out junk food. I work out thrice a week to keep fit. I am awaiting to do a secondary confirmatory test to see if I am completely healed,” she added.
Caroline quit her job and together with her three friends, started an initiative called Held (Hold Every Lady in Distress) Sister, which helps cancer survivors and patients get their lives back on track as well as educating women on sexual and reproductive health.