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Cervical Cancer

INTRIGUING: How my mother’s period returned at 62

Dr. Akin-Onitolo A.

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When Sana woke up, there was blood everywhere, from the sheets to the bedroom floor. The ugly fishy smell hit her nostrils in a sudden blast of recovered memory. To think she only just had a beautiful dream. Reality drenched her in sweat, the type she described to her son as internal heat. Honestly, it had shocked her how she begun having periods again at sixty-two.
On good days, she discarded four thoroughly soaked sanitary pads, it was often worse. She was weak most of the time, getting by with frequent sips of energy drinks. She had lost a lot of weight since her diagnosis five months ago. It was by a stroke of luck that she had gone to see her family doctor after her retirement celebrations. Previously, every unusual symptom was pegged at getting old, she once believed that advanced age was licence enough to feel back pain and lose weight. She was going to address a group of young women she mentored that afternoon and she knew just what to say.
She’d begun having children quite early, before she was sixteen. It was the trend then. Now, she had seven of them; four daughters and three sons. And she had cervical cancer. After her diagnosis, she learned that it likely began from an infection in her cervix, the neck of her womb, that part that had to flatten and widen at the same time during childbirth. It was very likely a virus that had done that work and turned the cells in her cervix to abnormal ones. But it was not only that. Because her sexual debut was early – nine years – and the vaccine against the virus was not existent then, she was among the over fourteen thousand women affected yearly.
After thirty five years of conscientious civil service, even retirement was not coming easy. But she was prepared to fight with all the breath she had. God willing, she prayed her chemo course the following week would help. Beginning with her meeting that afternoon though, Sana was going to tell her mentees candidly to get screened.

 

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Dr. Akin-onitolo A. is a graduate of the University of Lagos whose mission is to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) using health promotion and improved health literacy. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who had her elective at King's College London. Hugely interested in travel, meeting people and generally being creative, reading and writing fiction are a few hobbies you could find her engaged in during her spare time. Catch up with her on Twitter @Akinonitolo and Instagram @t_onitolo