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admin 07.04.2015

M P Shah Hospital BadgeA few months ago when I was first admitted at the M P Shah Hospital in Nairobi, I wrote an article about my condition that I thought was merely to alert my friends and let them know about what I was going through.
In the article I talked about my first impressions of the hospital since I had never been there before. Whereas I have never been admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital or Aga Khan Hospital in Kisumu, I have had the experience of visiting my relatives at both hospitals when they have gone to these two hospitals for treatment. The Kenyatta National Hospital on the other hand is a public facility with limited resources all round. Comparing medical services at public and private hospitals is like comparing cattle and donkeys. Yes, if patients admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital and other provincial hospitals would pay well for their services, public hospitals would generate enough cash to hire qualified hospital administrators, doctors and nurses, buy enough medicine, beds and bedding and feed their patients with food fit for human beings. After being discharged from M P Shah in May and spending seven weeks in the USA, I surely saw the difference between healthcare services we get here at home and those that are provided in developed countries. However, on my second admission at the MP Shah Hospital this month, I found the same smiling and welcoming faces I had observed the first time round.
Like all hospitals all over the world, doctors and nurses see thousands of patients such that it is unkind to expect them to remember their patients by name let alone their faces. However, the staff at MP Shah Hospital seem to have made it their business to remember the names of their patients. However, on my third and last day at the hospital two unique ladies paid me a surprise visit soon after breakfast on my hospital bed. As they stood laughing in my room, they noticed that my side of the wing was under construction making it impossible to open the windows. After they left, I kept thinking about them and wondered in which other hospital can patients find nurses and matrons with this sense of humour?
How many nurses, matrons and doctors have the time to read newspapers like these two ladies; get the humour and talk about it months later? Radiation Treatment For Prostate CancerSince I left Nairobi three weeks ago to seek further treatment for my prostate cancer in America’s advanced cancer institutions, I now have more information I can give to my friends, colleagues and followers of this column based on my observations and interactions with doctors and other social groups that are equally involved in the treatment of cancer in the United States of America. On arriving in Atlanta on June 20th 2011, I spent the first week booking appointments with Emory University Hospital Cancer Center, the Georgia Cancer Center and Radiotherapy Centers of the United States of America, all based in Atlanta area. Although Emory University Hospital, Georgia Cancer Center and Radiotherapy Center are different and independent institutions, their ownership is jointly shared making specialists easily share information regarding the latest research findings, discoveries and unique cases they come across.
Although under normal circumstances the capether should have been changed daily based on the USA standards, mine had been with me for close to six weeks.
On reading my test reports in Nairobi and seeing that at the start of my treatment I had a PSA level of 817 and a Gleason scale of 7, he quickly referred me to an oncologist at Emory University Hospital the same afternoon who examined me then referred me to Dr. Founded over 30 years ago, the center specializes in Prostate Cancer Research but also conducts weekly talks to cancer patients so that they can be better informed of new methods of managing the disease. What I discovered in my first meeting was that I was the only person whose PSA was 817 at the time of diagnosis.
In the last 30 years, doctors at the RC Cancer Centers have treated more than 12,500 men for prostate cancer with a procedure called ProstRcision. Based on RC Cancer Centers’ extensive experience in managing Prostate Cancer, the center has developed literature containing 136 questions and answers to provide men diagnosed with prostate cancer and their families information they need to make informed decisions on how to be treated.
After being on this subject for three weeks, I thought I would let the ghost of my shock rest and move on to other things.
These messages also came from diverse backgrounds; practicing medics, research institutions and individual herbal practitioners from Africa and the United States.
Most prayers by congregations I didn’t know came from Kenyan, Ugandan, Californian, Massachusdsets and Atlanta churches I had never been to.
At another lever, a number of my relatives and friends who visited me in hospital; someone like Kimenyi Waruhiu who lost his father to the same disease in March 2011 was brave enough to visit with me in my bed and encourage me to continue talking about it to help other people not die in silence.
Having said the above, any successful measure to curb this disease in East Africa is to thoroughly improve healthcare facilities in the region so that many hard working East Africans can enjoy universal health cover as well as be availed state of the art screening machines that can detect early infections to make treatment easy and more affordable.
Hospitals like Mulago General Hospital in Kampala, Kenyatta National Hospital and Dar as Salaam’s National Hospital should be elevated to international referral facilities capable of handling cases of many now treatable terminal illnesses associated with cancer, TB and Aids. Our Medical Research Institutions like KEMRI in Kenya, Malaria Research Center in Tanzania and I know there are others in Rwanda and Burundi should be elevated to credible Medical Research Institutions with adequate funding that can enable them partner with more endowed institutions in Western countries to help combat this menace at home. However, the biggest drawback in fighting prostate cancer is the African attitude and cultural beliefs surrounding it that makes its victims suffer in silence and solitude.
Right now, there is so much literature churning out of credible institutions in the USA and Europe on how to handle cancer and even avoid the hazardous routes of surgery, radio and even chemotherapy.
If we can declare HIV and Aids our national disasters with support from the International Community, we can declare prostate cancer that attacks nearly 100,000 rural and urban Kenyans a year. When in December 2010 Kenya’s Minister for Medical Services, Prof Peter Anyang Nyongo’ stunned friends and relatives across the globe that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it was a revelation to behold in a country where political leaders are always reluctant to reveal the state of their health.


What I did not know was that at the same hospital in Nairobi, I would be diagnosed with the same prostate cancer, only that mine would be more advanced than that of my professor friend.
Wednesday last week was no ordinary day for me although I had been ailing for the past seven to eight weeks. On being asked to lie on her table, one squeeze on my loins made her realize instantly that I could be having a more serious problem than I thought. Within one hour of receiving the information I had to be rushed to an urologist who ordered PSA test to be carried out to confirm a few details of the extent.
By Friday 11pm, Professor Nyongo and his wife Dorothy arrived at my house having been informed by my brother-in-law Peter Odoyo. What was annoying in this episode was the fact that the two doctors I had consulted earlier failed to recognize the obvious physical signs of mass formed around my rectum. As I write this article, I’m lying in my hospital bed at M P Shah Hospital for the initial management process. On admission to a hospital with cancer, I have learnt the value of relatives and caring friends.
My niece Julie Aura who was with me when the news was being broken remained calm, even calmer than me despite her tender age of 23. When it was realized that I was anemic due to low blood count and the hospital needed donors of my blood group, volunteers started pouring in. Because this disease comes like a thief in the night; it has taught me one thing- that we need regular medical examinations if for nothing else but to know our status. Now I value Professor Nyongo’s campaign for comprehensive healthcare insurance for all with the state of the art medical facilities in the country. Jerry Okungu was born in Awasi, Kochogo Village in the then East Kano Location in Central Nyanza, Kenya. However, in talking about how I was treated by hospital staff, I had the hindsight of being able to compare what I saw with what I have gone through or seen at Nyanza General Hospital, Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi Hospital and the Aga Khan hospitals in Kisumu and Nairobi.
In the USA, the first thing that hits you is the sense of welcome by the hospital staff right from the Hospital reception desk. This time it was even better because the hospital CEO arranged for my Emergency Admission even before I left my house; but because there was no bed immediately available, I was temporarily admitted at the ICU where I was attended to immediately without any bureaucratic procedures. And they started imagining how I would describe the scenery this time, hammers, cement and all falling all over me! He therefore chose to remove it and asked me to observe for at least 48 hours if I could do without it. Peacock saw me, I had to fill a 16 page questionnaire detailing my family history, drug allergies and the drugs I had been taking since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Peacock’s clinic, he referred me to a conference for Cancer patients organized by the RC Cancer Centers of the United States of America in Conyers.
These talks are attended by cancer survivors, patients under treatment and newly diagnosed cases.
Because most Americans go for routine PSA checks, theirs are discovered before reaching level four PSA count. The foundation of the ProstRcision treatment programme has been long term research focused on cure rather than treatment of prostate cancer.
In a nutshell, the Centers strives to provide a decision making process to enable the patient select the best treatment method for curing Prostate Cancer. Most cancer research institutions in the USA directed me to sites that could contain all the information I needed to cope with my ailment. Then I realized that many of my Ugandan readers in the Diaspora and their East African brothers who had followed my writings over the years had taken the lead in interceding for me with a plea to the Almighty that I was still needed here on earth to continue sharing my thoughts with them.
Some of them, quite in informed about many things had never bothered to go for their screenings.
The fact that it attacks prostate glands that are responsible for facilitating productive organs in the male body; the fact that the cancer cells feed voraciously on the male hormones produced in the prostate area, our fear is that once we have it, the only chance we have is to remove the prostate gland and render us impotent for the rest of our lives. All one needs to do is to do the simple things of life; get screened early and help yourself, family and friends to cope better with your illness. If this disease can kill 9 million Americans in one year; you can imagine how many people die of this disease in Africa alone where detection and treatment mechanisms are barely there even for the urban dwellers.
It was the day fate took me to the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi to seek a second opinion from a specialist on my persistent indigestion that had worsened with time though in retrospect, the signs were all there to see as early as October 2010 when I started losing my appetite, weight and desire to go to the gym. She immediately ordered that I go for a CT-SCAN at the nearby M P Shah Hospital because in her opinion, the hospital had the best facility in the city. Two hours later, I was back in my house contacting my family locally and abroad to break the news to them. Having gone through the same experience just a few months ago, they gave me the first therapy.


For this reason, I lost nearly three months of precious time I could have used to start the fight. I have gone through ultra sound examination, bioscopy, MRI and bone scanning, all intended to confirm the extent of the spread.
My nephews Moses Aluodo and Barry Odhuno whose father died of rare cancer 15 years ago took time off and got me admitted as quickly as possible. Yes, according to my doctor, 84 new cases are reported in Kenya daily with thousands more that go unnoticed. The Aga Khan Kisumu is a private hospital with fairly modern facilities and provides exceptional healthcare services to the people of the region.
The population streaming to this hospital on a 24 hour basis is simply overwhelming making it impossible to provide adequate and reasonable services to the sick and injured patients that go there.
One is a beast of burden while other provides milk and ghee before ending up at a dinner table. As it is, patients at these public hospitals just survive their ailments by the grace of God. Munyugi; keep laughing and smiling with your patients; it is the best care and medicine you can ever give to them and it costs you nothing! They find it easy to pick a phone and call another doctor if they find your case unique and unusual.
Schnell’s office, the Medical Director of the Newton Country Radiation Therapy Center. These were the gadgets that had been planted on my body in mid-May at MP Shah Hospital when I needed to ease pressure on my kidneys and detoxify my circulation system. To confirm that I was fine without one, he gave me a lot of liquid to drink and remained in the clinic for at least one hour to see if I could pass urine without the assistance of the capether.
In this category, I had to include any drug unauthorized by the Federal Drug Authority of the United States Government. From their research, over 80 research papers have been published and peer-reviewed in medical journals or presented at medical conferences.
12,000 and counting messages of all kinds on my Facebook and mail box were too much to ignore.
For this reason; with this number of responses to my articles on my condition, I found it appropriate to thank all of you individuals and groups that have prayed for me, wished me well and given me free advice on how to cope with my condition.
In Africa, the fear of inability to have normal sex or produce children at any age is a huge psychological barrier to dealing with prostate cancer.
And with a high turnover of its Chief Executives and the majority of its doctors in private practice all over the town, it is understandable if medical and healthcare services have gone down considerably since independence. When I finally did that, he released me to go home but instructed his nurse to give me two new capethers to take with me in case I needed them. Brendon the speaker for the evening immediately advised that chemotherapy and radiotherapy were not the way to go in my case. RC Cancer Centers boasts the oldest and largest seed implant programme for prostate cancer in the United States. If we have broken the myths over HIV and AIDS, we can break the myth over this killer called prostate cancer. We did at first not know how to handle it because in our family, we had never gone through this experience except for our last born sister who lost her husband to cancer 15 years ago. Those who are reckless can cost you dearly in the long run.For the days that I will remain in this hospital I will keep you updated on the treatment regime that my doctors will have put together and update you on my progress. I’m told that when it was King George VI Hospital, it was the place to go to for medical treatment. When they entered my room, the first thing they noticed was a laptop and burst out laughing!
Over the years, it has offered treatment for men in all 50 states in the USA as well as from over 40 countries around the world. On realizing that my PSA had been declining, he chose to continue with the same treatment but added more oral drugs to fortify the hormonal injection I had received in Nairobi the week I left.
His aim was to establish if I had been in honest discussions with my doctor in Nairobi because as he later informed me; treatment of cancer depends very much on the patient as much it depends on the physician in charge. The two ladies had read my article in the Star in May and remembered word for word what I had written about.



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