Pauline was six years old when she fell gravely ill. After two months of treatment, she showed no signs of improving and there was no clear diagnosis. That is when her mother, Lydia, decided to take her eight hours away to be seen at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH). It was at MTRH where Lydia was told that Pauline had stage 3 nephroblastoma - cancer of the kidney.

How did you know something was wrong with Pauline?

In September of 2017, Pauline got very sick. She had a high fever and her heart was beating very fast. I took her to a (private) hospital, but they thought it was just a fever. I knew something was wrong, so I decided to take her back. They diagnosed Pauline as having pneumonia, but I felt that it was not correct. Pauline was once again very sick with fever, fatigue and painful swelling on her right side. The local doctors told me it might be her appendix, but I did not believe this diagnosis, since Pauline got weaker and not better. The dispensary told me to take Pauline to MTRH in Eldoret. It was a long journey, about an 8 hour drive, but I hoped we would get the proper diagnosis. After only one day of testing, the doctors at MTRH told me that Pauline had nephroblastoma, or cancer of the kidney.

How did you feel when you found out your daughter had cancer?

I was very stressed and very scared, but I also felt a bit better knowing that we finally had the correct diagnosis and could now make a plan to help Pauline. I was also very alone. I did not have much support from some members of my family or my friends. It was a great financial burden and many people did not think Pauline would live very long. But I never gave up hope.

What type of treatment did Pauline receive at MTRH?

Pauline received excellent care after her diagnosis, and I had very good support too. The doctors at MTRH and AMPATH developed a treatment plan for Pauline. She received chemotherapy 6 times, then had surgery and then more chemotherapy. She needed to stay on the ward for two and a half months, and then go to Kenyatta for radiation therapy. She now has only one kidney, which worries me, but I have faith she will stay healthy.

How is Pauline now?

Pauline is doing very well. She can play, eat, and go to school like any other child. She has had some difficulty walking after the surgery, but is improving. I encourage her to be well and to get better every day. If you ask Pauline what she wants to be when she grows up, she will tell you that she wants to become a pediatric physician, so she can help other kids like herself.

What do you want to tell other parents who may be in the same situation?

If you know something is wrong with your child, act quickly and don’t stop fighting for them. Keep asking questions and find a good doctor, such as those at MTRH and AMPATH. If you are told your child has cancer, do not give up hope. An early diagnosis is important and can help them survive and be well.


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