As many as 133 people are diagnosed every day, as the scourge of cancer grows in the country.
Every day, about 90 Kenyans die from cancer, with many having been diagnosed when the disease was too advanced to treat.
According to doctors, cancer of the larynx is fast becoming one of the most common types of cancers in the country.
Something as simple as a persistent common cold should not be ignored.
When it was his turn to speak, he whipped out a pen and notebook.
On it, he wrote “I am Raymond Njeru from Embu. A pleasure to meet you.”
At 60, Mr Njeru, is learning a new language after losing his voice to cancer two years ago.
In 2017 he was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, a disease that starts in the voice box (larynx) and mostly affects people over the age of 40.
“I first walked into Embu Tenri Mission Hospital with difficulty in breathing after using too much over-the-counter medicine to treat what I thought was a common cold. When I got there, doctors nebulised me to decongest my chest and throat,” he recounts.
But his diagnosis, he also recalls, was that he developed breathing problems due to an allergic reaction to something in his environment. Nebulisation is a method of converting a medicine or solution into an aerosol, which is inhaled directly into the patient’s lungs.
Never in his wildest thoughts would he have imagined cancer was rapidly multiplying in his body. This is because the initial diagnosis did not indicate there could be an underlying problem.
When the “cold” persisted, Mr Njeru, on his son’s advice, went to a different hospital, five months after his first visit. This time, he was given medication to soothe his “burning throat”.
“Besides the drugs, I was also told what to eat and what to avoid,” he says.
Unfortunately, the symptoms grew more aggressive, compelling him to go to a third hospital before going back to Tenri where further tests revealed he had laryngeal cancer stage four. “When I woke up from sedation, I realised I no longer had my voice. A gadget was fitted on my neck,” he recalls.
In order to allow air to get into the lungs, a new opening must be made on the front part of the neck to create a permanent opening called a stoma.