The sound of the horn was my signal. I grabbed my purse, touched up my lipstick and dashed out to meet Onyeka. It was Friday, time to party! We were going to THUNDER, a new club opening today, and one of my favourite artistes, Sahde, was going to be performing. We got in just in time to see her leap on stage in her sleeveless red gown. Her stage presence and energy were matchless, and the whole crowd was gyrating to her sound.
After the first song, she motioned for us to be quiet.
“Today is my anniversary y’all. My fight with ovarian cancer is six years today. So I want to do a song called ‘Warrior’, and I dedicate it to everyone who has had to deal with cancer; any form of cancer. Irrespective of the outcome, you’re a warrior baby! Never forget that! I’ll tell you guys my story some other day… but it’s Friday night! … Who’s ready to have fun with me?”
The crowd thundered and she began to sing. She sang with so much passion that we could all see that it was coming from a real place. Sahde effortlessly moved the entire crowd to that real place with her. It was so electrifying.
When she took a bow signifying the end of her performance, people started chanting “Tell us the story!” “Tell us the story!”
She looked amazed in an cute way, and began.
“Shortly after I turned 40 years old, I noticed that I was urinating really frequently, like twenty times a day, and that I was easily tired. My first thought was, ‘Do I have diabetes?’ But I also noticed that I felt so full after eating very little and dismissed the thought of diabetes. Next, I felt it was the stress of the tour I just concluded. Or that I was finally pregnant after waiting for so many years. I took two weeks off to rest but it didn’t go away and after three negative pregnancy tests, I advised myself to go to the hospital.
The doctor asked me many, many questions. I wondered if he knew what he was doing when he was asking of several illnesses in my relatives, . I remember pouting, saying, ‘I came with my own complaints and you’re asking me about my relatives!’ He laughed very hard but reassured me that he hadn’t forgotten my complaints; he needed those answers to guide him to what my problem could be.
All the while, cancer was the last thing on my mind. In fact, it wasn’t on my mind at all. I never thought I could have cancer even though my grandmother had breast cancer, because let’s be honest, cancer is for old people right?
I was so wrong!
He educated me that day, that cancer affects even babies and can run in families. So if a person’s close relative has had cancer it’s important for one to go for regular checkups so that peradventure cancer is developing, it can be detected early and treated fast before it becomes uncontrollable.
After examining me and running many tests, the results showed that I had early stage ovarian cancer.
I flared up in denial. What? Me? Cancer? From where? I mean, I have an active lifestyle, I watch what I eat, so where could cancer come from? Bla, bla, bla, I ranted. Eventually though, I had to calm down and face the cancer. It wasn’t funny at all: it was emotionally, physically and financially draining. I had to undergo surgery and several chemotherapy sessions while praying, fighting, hoping and sometimes doubting. With the support of family and friends, I pulled through. Gratefully, I have been going for checkups twice a year since then and I’m cancer free.”
The hall broke out into applause. But Sahde was not done.
“Everyone on the health team said I was lucky I came early because ovarian cancer is a silent killer. Those warning symptoms are easily overlooked because they can be caused by less serious illnesses. That’s why most people that have ovarian cancer don’t know until it is late. I mean, who thinks of cancer first when you’re bloated, tired and urinating frequently?
“No one o.” we chanted.
I have made myself an ambassador since then, warning people, especially any female whose relative has had breast cancer, ovarian cancer or cancer of the large intestine, to go for frequent checkups, and not to ignore mild symptoms. Any of these cancers in the family put one at a higher risk of having ovarian cancer.”
Exclamations of ‘Wow!’, ‘Amazing!’, ‘Interesting!’, could be heard from different quarters.
“Thank you for letting me share my story tonight.” Sahde concluded. “And if there’s one thing I’ll like you to remember, it’s that even though ovarian cancer is uncommon in women less than 40 years, it can still occur so don’t ignore any symptoms and go for checkups. Above all, never give up. Thank you so much! One love!”
She gave the peace sign and went off stage.
The screams were deafening.
We danced our way all through the night with different performers but Sahde’s words kept replaying at the back of my mind… ‘Don’t ignore symptoms and go for checkups’.
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