At Ahono Primary School in Siaya County a long queue of clients waited to access integrated reproductive health services that had been brought closer home. It was a Huduma Poa community based event day set aside for contraceptive services, cervical cancer screening and HIV testing and counseling.
In the queue was Teresa Adhiambo, waiting patiently just like the other women for her turn to get into the room and see a reproductive health personnel. For the last two years Teresa has not been having her monthly periods until they reappeared in September 2014 with intense waist pains and continuous profuse bleeding.
Teresa Adhiambo aged 43 years is a widow with a perfect story of the ruggedness of life one wouldn’t tell by just looking at her composed self, especially on a day like this.
The mother of seven, the oldest being 16 years and the youngest 10 years, was widowed in the year 2000 after her husband succumbed to a fatal road accident.
The following year she was inherited by her brother-in-law according to the Luo customs. After only two years in union, her new husband and the co-wife passed on after a series of prolonged illnesses.
Out of a mixture of fear, suspicion and caution she went for a HIV test, this being the second time. She turned out HIV positive.
Teresa somberly recalls how she insisted that the brother in law and her get tested first before their union which he accepted due to her persistence. They both turned out to be negative then.
Her predicament distressed her each day as she questioned how she came to get the virus. She says she suffered a period of regrets, self-blame and desperation.
‘I had a feeling my brother in law knew his HIV status earlier and had struck a deal with the nurse in charge not to disclose to me when we went to be tested. I would never have allowed him to infect me because I have children to take care of’, she discloses.
While still on her path to emotional healing, another complication arose. Her monthly periods reappeared after two years of no signs of bleeding only that this time she experienced intense waist pains and continuous heavy bleeding.
When she could not ignore the condition anymore she went to seek medication and without being tested, she was prescribed drugs to reduce the pain. Her condition did not improve despite being on medication and she continued to bleed for three months.
She says a nurse once told her that those were signs of approaching menopause.
Her face fills with melancholy as she recalls how she had to sell a goat to buy medicine costing 1300 shillings yet she still lived with the worst agony a single mum without a source of income
On this particular day she had come to seek a second medical opinion after her sister who lives in Sagam informed her of KMET’s Huduma Poa event day at Ahono Primary School.
After a cervical cancer screening she was found to have an advanced cervical cancer and she has been bleeding because her cervix tissues had already become cancerous.
The news shook her. She went quiet for some minutes and the first thing she uttered during counseling was where she would get money for her medication since she was referred to the nearby Yala Sub-County Hospital for examination under anesthesia and possible biopsy for histology. To her, this was a great reprieve “I hope all will be well and thank you KMET, you should come out here more frequently to help people like me”
By Pamela Nyagol,