Sharon is the firstborn in a family of six and has a story to tell about hospice care.
She has experiences to share following her father’s life threatening illness that has lasted from the time she was a little girl.
“Dad was discovered with a disease back in the year 2000. By them I was four years old. I was told it was cancer but did not understand what it was.” She says.
Living in Kibera, the largest urban slum in Africa, Sharon indicates that the only thing she knew back then was that her dad’s illness was affecting his legs.
“I was young and all I could see were visitors coming home to see my dad and give him drugs.” She says.
Due to his illness, Sharon says that his dad could not walk and her thought was that it was a normal illness that could soon heal.
“The doctor who used to come and see my dad is the one who explained to us what my father was suffering from.” She says.
Even if she doesn’t understand in-depth what cancer is, Sharon says that she understood cancer to be like HIV/AIDS.
“I was shocked when the doctor told me that my dad had cancer and my first thought was that he would leave us soon.” She says.
She adds that the doctor brought along some pictures of various cancers and explained to them what this disease was.
“The doctor explained to us that the cancer my dad was suffering from was not curable but could be managed. She says.
Though Sharon was shocked at first, she says that with time she accepted the situation and they could at times go to Nairobi Hospice and hear other patients talk about the cancer they were suffering from.” She narrated.
“It is here I discovered that it is not our family alone that is affected by cancer; many more are.” She acknowledges.
By the time she was receiving a clearer explanation of what cancer was, she was in Standard eight. A time she was preparing to sit for her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE).
“I completed my KCPE in 2011 and dad’s situation did not affect me in any way despite the challenges the family was going through. I am currently in form two at Shiners Girls in Nakuru, joining form 3 next year.” Sharon says.
She says that she also had an aunt who had breast cancer and used to come to the Hospice but unfortunately she passed on when Sharon was in class six.
“My dad’s transformation at Nairobi Hospice is a gift to us. Seeing other people pass on from cancer while my dad is growing strong is a great blessing.” She says,
She adds that palliative care offered at hospices has really helped children like them.
“Palliative care has given us courage to continue with our studies without being stressed of our parent’s illness.” She says.
Sharon encourages other children whose parents are suffering from life threatening illnesses not to be stressed up because, with this stress, one may even die ahead of the patient.
Her advice to other children: “Keep studying and pray for your parents as well as other patients ailing from life threatening diseases.”
To the parents ailing from life threatening illnesses, Sharon says, “There is no need of hiding your disease from your children. We are in a digital generation, not analog. It’s good to let them know so that in case you pass on, they will know what caused your death.”
In conclusion, Sharon says that when a parent dies without informing the children, the remaining parent or relatives will have a hard time explaining to the children what the parent was ailing from which may end up creating a sense of no trust in the family.
“Just let them know you illness”