'I have to live with early menopause,' says 28-year-old cancer survivor

Mary Gathoni will not accept that she will not hear the pitter patter of little feet in his house.

The 28-year-old was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer. She beat it. But she is still battling with the after effects of the treatment.

Here is her story.

"Side-effects of cancer treatment haunt me up to date

In 2012 just after high school, I noticed a swelling on the side of my stomach (inguinal). This seemed normal to me since I had it since 2009 when I was in Form 2. The only abnormal thing was that it had grown from a pea to as big as a mango.

I had a part-time job and my boss forced me to get checked as the lump was protruding on my outfits. I asked myself why get checked yet it wasn’t painful? Anyway, I went for a check-up because I didn’t want to lose my job.

I must admit my boss saved my life. I got to Nyeri General Hospital and the moment they did a test called FNA, that was the beginning of unbearable pain, insomnia, mouth sores, loss of appetite and having to care for a wound that took an eternity to heal.

I was handled like a specimen with so many doctors in lab coats coming to do tests on me. Finally, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer.

My journey for treatment started in January 2012, and it took three months to get an NHIF card, which barely helped.

I had to do 12 cycles of chemo and each cost Sh35,000. I also went through 25 sessions of radiotherapy. My family could barely afford it. Being the second born in a family of nine with a single mother who was struggling to feed us, it wasn’t easy.

By the end of 2012, I was diagnosed to be free of cancer. The trauma I face now is I didn’t have someone to counsel me on the side effects of treatment, some that may be permanent.

Seven years after being free of cancer and my eyesight has never returned to normal. I suffer insomnia and my teeth still have cracks, I rarely eat well and have never weighed more than 49kg.

The pride of every woman is to have a child but my menstrual periods were permanently affected by the cancer treatment. My cycle is more than abnormal. I can’t even remember the last time I had periods. When they come, it’s for a day and they’re gone.

The last doctor I saw told me that I may be infertile, I don’t want to believe it but I know my body and I can feel the difference. Lastly, I am 28 years and I forget things that I feel I shouldn’t forget at times. It’s my desire that cancer victors like me work towards the creation of awareness of side-effects to those diagnosed, and also advocate cancer screening.