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Helping our son fight cancer

Brian Kimani was a healthy child until four months ago when he was diagnosed with Leukemia. His parents Steve and Maryanne Njoroge share their struggle to see their son regain health

For the last four months, hospitals have become Brian Kimani’s second home. Ironically, the 12-year-old has always been a healthy child as far as his parents can remember. Brian was a jovial and a responsible child who always took care of his two younger siblings and exhibited leadership qualities at home and in church.

“I cannot recall my son being seriously sick,” his mother Maryanne Wanjiku told Fusion when we visited them at  Gertrudes Children’s Hospital. “However, in March this year, Brian came home from school complaining of a headache. I gave him some painkillers, which offered him temporary relief,” she says.

Then he came down with bouts of dizziness and his mother noted a swelling in his knee. “I took him to hospital and he was treated for amoeba. We were also prescribed painkillers to ease the headaches. It did not help much,” she recalls.

Towards the end of first term, Brian had just sat for his end of term exams when he came home with stark white eyes. “We took Brian to Kijabe Hospital, tests were done and he was diagnosed with blood cancer (Acute Myeloid Leukemia).

We were all shocked at how a boy who appeared all healthy and walked to hospital would the next minute be fighting for his life. We were referred to Kenyatta National Hospital,” his father, Steve Njoroge says.

The family was devastated, but they had to act fast. Brian was admitted at KNH children’s cancer ward, where he stayed for two months. The medics worked day and night to help raise his blood count before administering chemotherapy treatment.

His blood count was so low at 5.3, instead of 12 and he had to undergo blood and platelets transfusion. “As a parent, it broke my heart to see my son lying in hospital helpless and in pain. His father and I would camp outside the ward since we were not allowed inside as often as we would have loved,” Maryanne says.

As his condition deteriorated, his parents, even though financially strained, decided to take him to Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital. “Any parent would opt to deal with a huge bill instead of watching their child get worse by the day. By the time we transferred him, he was sharing a bed and had gotten a wound on his arm that would not heal.

He was urinating blood and his blood count had fallen to 3.4. He could not eat and his eyes were bloodshot,” says Njoroge as he shows us a photo he took of Brian on the day he was admitted at Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital.

At the hospital, Brian was started on a small dosage of chemotherapy. He has 24-hour nurse attention. Brian’s siblings, Stephen (8) and Tiffany (2) have been to the ward to see him.

“Now he is much better and we can allow them come to see him. His sister, Tiffany, is a bit shaken by her brother’s state even though his condition has tremendously improved,” Steve admits.

Tiffany is somewhat afraid to stay so close to her brother. “She is young and curious. Since her mother is also in the hospital with Brian, she turns to me for questions. I think they do not quite grasp what is happening to their big brother,” he adds. Their grandmother now lives with them to help with the running of the house.

His Standard Seven classmates occasionally send him love through their teachers. “His school has been supportive and his teachers once in a while come to see him,” his mother adds.

Brian requires a bone marrow transplant to be conducted in India. At the moment, the Njoroges are faced with a bill running up to Sh3 million. “We have a paybill number 98862, account name Brian Kimani, where well-wishers can donate funds. We hope to raise about Sh10 million,” Steve explains.

When asked what he hopes to do once better, Brian says he wants to play football with his friends. “I miss school and my friends. When I grow up, I want to be an architectural engineer,” Brian beams.

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