To all the mothers out there
May God bless you so much on this day, we love you, it is the least that we can do for all the nausea that we gave you while we were still fetuses, for all the pain that you endured to bring us to the world, for all the sleepless nights that you had, nursing us.
You carried us in your wombs before we came to this world, when we came, you held us in your hands and looked at us with tenderness and love, when we became too big for the hands, you placed us on your backs.
To all the women out there, you are the greatest may you live long
Let us talk cancer- cervical cancer
Cervical cancer is caused by a virus that is usually transmitted sexually, the risk factors for cervical cancer are; multiple sexual partners, high risk sexual partners( a promiscuous partner), early onset of sexual intercourse, history of sexually transmitted diseases( STDs), immune suppression (mostly AIDS),high number of deliveries, and others( low social economic status, cigarette smoking, etc). Cervical cancer is related to ones’ sexual behavior; that is why you need to have that sexual chat with your young ones. Yes we are going to make sure that they get the gardasil or cervarix (cervical cancer vaccines), we are going to remind them to do their pap smears, but again we are going to teach them about sex.
We are not going to tell our children that sex is tabia mbaya (sex outside marriage is not good manners though), that is sex bad, that those who have sex will burn in hell fire. We will tell them that sex is a gift from God to two people who love each other. It is a gift that should be shared among people who are married. We will teach them of the need to abstain, but we will also tell them that at the other side of abstinence, sex happens, if it ever happens outside marriage, remind them that it shouldn’t be unplanned, it should never just happen, it should be responsible sex, with a partner who is faithful to them, and they should use condoms by all means.
Majority of parents avoid discussing sex matters with their daughters, they live hoping that their daughters and sons are abstaining. Then the daughters grow up adolescence comes and the hormones happen, the breasts push on the clothes, the hips become rounder and curvier and the neighbor’s son notices, then he touches the breast and arouses a desire that can only be quenched by sex, before the girl knows it, it has happened. She has had sex without protection, and pregnancy is inevitable. At the age of thirteen, a child is forced to have a child (Nerea-usitoe mimba yangu), and the road to misery for that young woman begins.
There are very few adolescents who know whatever they need to know about sex, very few, majority are left to find out on their own. They always find out from their peers, media, and of course trial. This is the reason why they make so many mistakes because they learn through experience.
Most parents even at this age cannot talk to their children about sex. Well it is hard, and I know most are asking in what language can we have this sex chat with our children? Talking about sex involves words that are considered extremely vulgar especially when said in our mother tongues or in Swahili but then we have no option. We must tell these things to our children no matter how uncomfortable they make us. This is the only way we are going to be safe.
Teenagers should be encouraged to be free with their parents. Encourage them to introduce you to their boyfriends. Let them know that there is nothing wrong about feeling like they love someone of the opposite sex. Help them with their boyfriend issues. Life is not just about books and good grades; life is about sex, love and hate too. If you are a mother, you have been a teenager before; you have passed through all these stages. There are things that you wanted to be told, thing that you were never told, be different, be the mother who tells their daughters what they need to know, never what you think is right for them to know.
We lost the battle against cervical cancer long before we started fighting it, but we are not going to sit back and act defeated. We will pick up the weapons and go back to the battlefield. We are not going to wait until we have symptoms so we can go to the hospital, as women, we have to set aside time and money for us, time to go to the gynecologists and have a checkup, yeah just a checkup even when everything feels fine, even when there is no pain, even when there is no bleeding. Society needs women, women who are healthy or the nation will starve, and our children will all get malnourished; we cannot afford to let them die of cervical cancer.
Screening programmes for cervical cancer are available. Pap smear is commonly used although other forms of screening are available.
All women should begin cervical cancer screening three years after the onset of vaginal intercourse. Women aged twenty one who haven’t started vaginal intercourse should also start screening. women in their twenties should have pap smears every three years.
At the age of thirty, women who have had normal smears are advised to do their pap smears every two years, unless they are HIV positive in which case they should have their pap smears yearly.
Women aged above seventy years who have had normal pap smears within the last ten years and women who have had uterine removal for any other reason apart from cervical cancer may stop screening.
A positive result may mean that cancer cells are present but if at all you have been doing your pap smears as is required you need not to fear; this only means that you are lucky to catch it early and you will mostly likely have the last laugh. Results are to be discussed with a gynecologist who will then decide on the next course of action.
If we don’t stop believing in treating, we will never win against cancer. Cervical cancer is a slow killer; it takes at least fifteen years to develop cervical cancer from the time of infection with the causative agent; a sexually transmitted virus called the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Women wait until they are having a foul smelling vaginal discharge, until their husbands move out of the bedroom because of the bad smell from between their legs, until they are bleeding after sex, until they are in pain that is when they walk to the hospital, fifteen years too late. They do not realize that cervical cancer kills them as they weed in their farms, as they breastfeed their babies, as they carry firewood, it kills them slowly, the cancer cells continue growing even when they feel okay.
A vaccine is available for prevention against cervical cancer, gardasil and cervarix.
Gardasil is preferred It is given to girls as young as the age of nine years, in three doses at zero, two and six months.
To defeat cervical cancer, we have to teach our women, the young and the old, that this cancer is purely behavioral, let us remind the old and teach the young ones about sex. We cannot hope that they are not having, (with all the influence from around and the glorification of sex), let us preach the need for having single sexual partners(if this is possible) using condoms(if having one partner is not possible), or waiting till marriage if they are that strong(although you cannot be sure that you can have a faithful partner in marriage).
Cervical cancer, if caught early in stage one and early stage two is curable through surgery. Timing is essential when talking of cancer. Let us be women who love ourselves, doctors cannot go out to look for us, but we should love ourselves so much that we see the need to see gynecologists once a while, this way we will catch disease early