Kirubi: My cancer was discovered by mistake

“My cancer was discovered by mistake.” These were the opening words of billionaire businessman Chris Kirubi when he spoke for the first time about his fight against cancer.
Slightly more than a year ago, Kirubi began his day as usual with a flurry of business meetings and retreated to his palatial home in upmarket Kitsuru later that afternoon.
While home in the leafy suburb Kirubi started experiencing fever and he called his doctor who came with a pathologist.
“They took my blood and quickly ran checks only to return to tell me that I was very sick and needed to go with them to the hospital. They rushed me through the Emergency section straight to the High Dependency Ward at Nairobi Hospital. I’m told my eyes were yellow and my fever was shooting through the roof. From there it was a series of tests for the next few days as they observed my situation.
“When they finally finished, they broke the news to me that I had stage two cancer, which was affecting my internal organs, including the lungs and kidneys. They said I needed to fly out of the country urgently for treatment,” the 78-year-old told the Star.
Kirubi then flew to Boston in the US where doctors ran further checks and started treatment.
“These are some of the best oncologists you can get and I’m lucky that I made it there. What followed was a struggle. It was painful, unsettling and the medication was sometimes very strong,” he said.
Former Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, ex-Kibra MP Ken Okoth and former Bomet Gover- nor Joyce Laboso are among the influential personalities who re- cently succumbed to cancer.
Despite the challenges, Kirubi never lost hope. He believed in God and the doctors who were treating him.
“I never lost faith and people came to pray for me. With time I began to improve. My body was weak yet I had to continue with the medication. It was not easy,” he said.
Once he improved, doctors discharged him and the business mogul flew back home where he has continued with the treatment.
Because his immunity is low, visitors are restricted.
“It has been a traumatic journey full of challenges. I encourage anyone fighting cancer not to lose hope. Pray but also seek treatment,” he added.
Kirubi opened up about his battle with cancer for the first time yesterday in a brief video in which he appealed to Kenyans to undertake regular medical ex- aminations.
“I hope that when you see me and think of me, you remember that cancer is treatable and curable. Go to your doctor and prompt them to profile your blood for cancer cells.
“We will only defeat cancer if we do something about it and I truly believe we can start with regular cancer screening tests which can catch some cancers early, when they are small, have not spread and are easier to treat.
“I know that cancer diagnosis can be very devastating to the person who is receiving the news and the people close to them. I have been on the receiving end myself,” he said.
The businessman said other than medical checks Kenyans need to adopt healthy lifestyles.
“For those who are battling cancer, I would like to urge you to continue fighting, maintain a positive attitude and take things a day at a time. We shall continue to draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival. Do not give up. There is hope,”Kirubi said.
He said early diagnosis was the key to defeating the killer disease.
“Do not allow cancer to get to the third or fourth stage because it becomes very difficult for the doctors to cure that,” Kirubi said in his passionate appeal.
The Centum Investment Director had by then been admitted for 12 days at Nairobi Hospital.
When he returned to Kenya in mid-2018, cancer treatment had already taken a massive toll on his body as he had lost a lot of weight.
A first public appearance showed him weak, but yesterday the businessman was energic and had put on weight.
“I would like to say that I would not like to see any investor in our business get cancer,” Kirubi told Centum investors in a recorded video.
The tycoon known for his vast business interests in a wide range of sectors was flown to America in November 2017 and spent most of that year receiving treatment in the US.
Kirubi has continued to scale the heights of success with many investments under his name and shareholder titles in some of the biggest companies in East Africa.
Valued at over £300 million (Sh30 billion), he holds shares in Two RiversMall through Centum, Haco Industries and Capital Group Ltd that owns Capital FM.
The number of cancer cases has been on the rise in Kenya with the country already record- ing 47,887 new cases of all type of cancer every year. Many cases have been blamed for changing and unhealthy lifestyles. That includes obesity, lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet, as well as smoking
According to data from the national cancer institute, 3,987 Kenyans lose the cancer battle every year, making the country among those with the highest cancer-related deaths in Africa.
Critics argue that the government’s response to what is slowly building up to a health disaster can only be qualified as farcical.
According to statistics, nearly 115 people who walk into hospitals for treatment are informed of what could be potentially a death sentence—cancer.
In 2012, Parliament passed the National Cancer Control and Prevention Act which, among other things, created the Nation- al Cancer Institute, a semi-au- tonomous centre for research, diagnosis and treatment.
But despite the government’s efforts, cancer cases continue to rise with many patients struggling to meet treatment costs.
Many patients have decided to fly to India for cheaper treatment with many returning hopeless after failing to afford medication.
By The Star

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