In this week’s feature of patient stories, we chronicle Kalembe Fidah. One who was at the end of her life? She was a Stage 4 Cervical Cancer Patient and she passed on recently. It’s sad but the Cancer Charity Foundation is glad to walk the end of her days with her. It’s something we carry with pride. In her last days, we were very touched when her son Franco thanked us profusely for “enabling him to achieve his dream of taking care of her until her last days”. Incidents as these are so emotional at the Hostel, but we are glad to be part of such experiences good and bad. When a guest at the hostel dies, there is a big void which takes long to fill that they left. Such is the big hole that was left behind by Fidah.
Kalembe passed on 21st September 2019 at the age of 44. She left behind 5 children and several grandchildren. She was widowed at the time. Early March 2019, like most Cervical cancer patients she experienced incessant bleeding for a full month. The bleeding intensified in April. Situations like these are so challenging for most communities because they are clueless of such symptoms. They always presume its witchcraft.
She was taken to a shrine for three more months. Nothing fruitful came out of this. Franco, the son taking care of her by the time she was at the hostel informed me that he had to involve the police in this. Eventually, he won. He picked her from the shrine and was taken to Iganga Main Hospital. This eventually created a drift in the whole family. They accused Franco of not listening, that this was a sickness the required herbal healing. They all abandoned him.
We all need heroes once in our lifetimes. Franco was such a hero. It takes courage and determination to take care of a cervical cancer patient who bleeds 24/7, especially for your mother, especially in the African setting. This 24-year-old had to wash his mom’s lingerie and pads stained with blood. She did this with one heart.
In Iganga hospital, surgery was suggested after diagnosed with intra uterine fibroids. The affected uterus was not removed. The situation was not improving. They decided to come to Mulago without any reference. A Biopsy at Kampala Hospital was done which put their doubts to rest that it was indeed cancer. The bad news was in its last stages. Not even the radiotherapy for 30 days helped improve the situation.
We received Kalembe in August 2019 after a collaborative referral from Hospice Jinja and Medical Social workers at UCI Mulago. Her last days have been characterized by a lot of pain. We managed to secure pain-relieving Morphine for her from Hospice Jinja and emotionally prepare the son for coming hard times. He handled it well. The secretariat also collaborated with Rays of Hope Jinja to secure transport back home. Fidah’s condition had worsened and kept her at the hostel until her last days could prove costly for the son. Indeed the next day after the discharge from the hospital, she passed on.
For us this what makes us go on, much as we hate seeing our patients pass on, we believe she is in a better place.