Ever so usually, we face challenges in life, typically one after one other, or on the similar time, and ideas of giving up creep up. It’s much more making an attempt if you end up distant from family members.
That is the story of 39-year-old Prosie Tsapwe, who has been dwelling in Rwanda since 2015, however for the previous two years, has confronted a rollercoaster experience of occasions that solely resilience can deal with.
Tsapwe moved to Rwanda in 2015 from Uganda when a educating alternative for a particular wants youngster got here up. On the time, all she wished was to discover extra and alter the setting round her.
“I didn’t actually have plans to come back to Rwanda, however then I mentioned effectively, I must get out of Uganda and see if I can do one thing higher for myself. I wanted room to discover extra,” Tsapwe says.
“So, after I got here to Rwanda, I by no means regarded again, and that was the fitting choice. You understand, I’ve met new individuals, made new buddies and I’ve a brand new household right here,” she provides, stating that in 2016, she bought a everlasting job and obtained a working allow.
Prosie Tsapwe receives remedy in Butaro Hospital, Burera. Picture/Courtesy.
Life appeared to be on observe and he or she was settling effectively in her new nation. She fell in love with Rwanda. “I simply beloved Rwanda. It’s a tremendous place to be,” she says.
Life, nonetheless, would quickly take a stunning flip—in February 2019 she was identified with breast most cancers, a situation she was all too acquainted with—her mom had handed on in April 1998 after battling the illness.
The illness was in its superior stage when her mom died in a automobile accident in Kenya. By the point she handed on, she was present process remedy within the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.
Tsapwe breaks down and cries as she narrates her ordeal throughout the interview. Pictures: Gad Nshimiye
Tsapwe’s personal analysis and subsequent surgical procedure at King Faisal Hospital (KFH), and Rwanda Navy Hospital-Kanombe, respectively, triggered the painful expertise her mom went by means of earlier than she met her demise.
The bubbly Tsapwe, nonetheless present process remedy remedy at the very least for the subsequent 5 years till the most cancers goes into full remission, has not solely had to deal with the rigorous remedy course of, but additionally a slew of different tragedies and monetary difficulties, which she has needed to endure with a coronary heart of metal.
Her story is one in every of resilience, dedication, and to a big extent, a constructive perspective.
It began with a dialog she had with a pal again in Uganda in January 2019, who informed her that her younger sister who was 15, had undergone an operation and a stone-like lump had been faraway from her breast.
A physician at Butaro Hospital attends to Tsapwe. Picture: Courtesy
Tsapwe informed the pal that she too had at all times felt a lump in her breast however she thought it was a ‘hormonal factor’, and hadn’t actually paid consideration to it as a result of it wasn’t painful.
Her pal then suggested her to seek the advice of a health care provider again in Uganda, the place she had travelled for Christmas holidays. After they checked, the physician confirmed that there was a lump, but it surely wasn’t cancerous. However, the physician mentioned it needed to be eliminated.
Tsapwe, nonetheless, wanted to return to Rwanda urgently for a few job interviews, one in every of which was in Musanze District, which might see her enterprise into her different ardour—tourism.
“The place was actually chilly. It’s a must to sleep with some sizzling water bottles within the mattress. So, the second evening, I don’t actually know, possibly it was my thoughts desirous about it or what, however I woke as much as a really sharp ache in my chest.
“It was a very sharp ache, like somebody stabbing a knife by means of my breast. It made me cry and I feel what triggered it was the chilly,” she recollects, including that when the ache began, it by no means stopped. As an alternative, it intensified by the day.
When she returned to Kigali, she checked in at Legacy Clinic and a mammogram and ultrasound have been finished. The physician suggested her to go to KFH to do a co-biopsy, which she did and outcomes took per week.
When she returned to get the outcomes, the physician informed her to anticipate the worst, one thing, she didn’t wish to hear.
“In case your mum had it, it’s doable that you might have it too, so simply put together for the worst,” the physician mentioned. She was afraid of opening the outcomes herself, so she took them to a pathologist.
“The pathologist mentioned there was no malignancy. It’s only a fibrocystic illness.” And he or she was relieved, however was knowledgeable that given the household historical past, the possibilities of getting cancerous have been very excessive, so she needed to mobilise funds to take away the lump.
The surgical procedure was finished at Rwanda Navy Hospital and the lump taken for testing. When she returned to the hospital to get the outcomes, she bought an uncommon reception, because the medical doctors on responsibility helped her beat the lengthy line of sufferers.
She was knowledgeable that they have been ready for 2 medical doctors, together with an oncologist. Tsapwe didn’t know what an oncologist was. She googled and noticed ‘most cancers’.
She was knowledgeable that the checks had confirmed most cancers and so they wanted to do extra checks to see how far it had unfold, checking the lymph nodes and to evaluate the remedy procedures wanted to comprise it.
“I didn’t know find out how to inform my household again house,” she says, including that she didn’t know what subsequent, as questions popped up in her head, about whether or not she’s going to beat it, the funds and extra.
“I didn’t know what was subsequent so I simply went and sat someplace on a chair and began crying. I simply cried and mentioned what now? I didn’t know find out how to take care of that,” she says, overcome by feelings.
“First it was my mum, and now me?” she mentioned to herself, convincing herself that it was a lie. She had acted robust earlier than the medical doctors however as quickly as she went out, it hit her.
It was the weakest level for her to the extent that she requested God to take her life if want be.
“I type of nearly gave up,” she says, regardless of her robust nature. Nevertheless, someday, she awoke and mentioned ‘what would my mum have wished me to do?’ and he or she vowed to combat on.
Her resolve marked the start of a protracted, winding journey, which noticed her criss-cross hospitals in Rwanda and later Nairobi, Kenya, the place she continued her remedy.
The Covid-19 outbreak worsened an already dire state of affairs for her, grounding her in a hospital in Nairobi for 5 months, with no supply of revenue or another type of assist.
Tsapwe had travelled to Kenya for radiotherapy early 2020, when the coronavirus restrictions have been introduced. Nations imposed lockdowns and journey was suspended.
Having undergone preliminary therapies at King Faisal and Rwanda Navy Hopsital, and chemotherapy in Butaro Hospital, Burera District, she travelled to Kenya to do further follow-up checks and remedy which couldn’t be accessed in Rwanda.
Now right here she was, caught out of the country, on their lonesome. The 5 months have been characterised by despair, however thank God some buddies in Kenya really useful medical doctors to assist till August 1, 2020 when airports reopened and he or she was capable of journey again.
The very first thing she needed to do was to return to Rwanda to follow-up with the primary physician who identified the situation, as a result of with most cancers, you don’t have to alter medical doctors usually. She additionally wanted to come back again and full her chemotherapy remedy.
In all this, the 39-year-old refused to be put down by breast most cancers. Although the remedy itself was draining and painful, Tsapwe decided to not be grounded by most cancers or its remedy, which may also be exhausting.
On her third chemotherapy spherical, Tsapwe shocked her physician when she informed him that she didn’t wish to keep in mattress.
“I informed him I didn’t wish to look sick. I could really feel sick, however I didn’t wish to look sick. So, I needed to discover one thing to offer me a motive to stand up and do one thing to look as much as,” she says. At this level, the undesirable results of chemo have been setting in.
Grief, monetary struggles
It was troublesome for Tsapwe, who on the time had determined to be taking herself to and from the hospital, avoiding the vulnerability of needing a caretaker.
It’s one thing she needed to do to maintain herself going, given the difficulties she was going by means of in the intervening time.
“On the time my household was not doing effectively financially and two months earlier than I began my chemo, I had misplaced a brother in an accident,” Tsapwe says.
“It was a very disturbing time for my household,” she recollects, including that the brother who had handed on was the primary supplier of the household and his demise offered a significant monetary setback.
Amidst all this, Tsapwe confronted a significant dilemma as some individuals inspired her to not do chemo as a result of it will ‘restrict her possibilities of survival’, and as a substitute suggested her to go the dietary manner.
It’s a wrestle many most cancers sufferers undergo, which typically can result in poor decision-making with deadly penalties. She did her personal analysis and mirrored on her mom’s story and he or she decided to endure regular most cancers remedy.
“I needed to resolve and say you already know what, it’s okay, you’ll be able to skip the remedy, you’ll be able to go the dietary away, however when this factor (most cancers) comes again, it comes again very aggressively and you’ll not have any possibilities,” recollects Tsapwe who on the time was at stage two.
In a light-weight second, she recollects that her greatest concern was her hair falling off. On the time she didn’t have a job. She had simply discovered a brand new job when she bought the analysis and couldn’t take it up.
This put her in a horrible monetary state of affairs—however because of buddies and the church ministry she served in, individuals got here collectively and contributed funds for her to go for remedy.
As destiny would have it, Rwanda turned out to be the place she actually wished to be, primarily as a result of she wished to be away from the poisonous state of affairs again house and likewise be capable to entry remedy with real medication, which she believed she would get in Rwanda.
Doing her chemo in Butaro Hospital was fulfilling, as a result of she had heard concerning the hospital working with most cancers establishments globally, and receiving real medicine as a centre of excellence for most cancers remedy.
Nevertheless, it was not straightforward as a result of at instances she would really feel lonely, however she had this drive in her. It’s this spirit that Tsapwe thinks noticed her by means of all the journey which was filled with ups and downs.
She would ask for chemo as if she was asking for a cup of tea, which would go away medical doctors shocked, given the undesirable negative effects of the chemo remedy.
In between chemotherapy remedy, Tsapwe would make and distribute ‘Chinchin’ (tiny, crunchy deep-fried mandazi), with a catheter by means of which chemo is run wrapped round her neck.
“I’m not a stay-at-home individual,” Tsapwe says about her drive, including that not even her hair (her beloved dreadlocks) falling off or college children asking too many questions would cease her from operating her errands.
Nevertheless, she was warned that operating errands would expose her to infections since her immunity was down.
She additionally needed to alter her food regimen utterly, dropping all meals containing sugar and carbs, for greens and different cancer-fighting meals.
It additionally meant that she needed to dispose of her candy tooth and all of the sugary cravings. She believes her dietary choice performed a significant function in her restoration.
Aside from shedding her hair and eyebrows, the remedy gave her many undesirable results, from lack of urge for food to infections and pores and skin situations, however she confronted all of them with a constructive perspective, and rose again from it stronger.
Remedy in Kenya
Life in Kenya the place she was grounded for 5 months was significantly harder, as a result of she didn’t have buddies round her and he or she continuously wanted funds to afford the radiotherapy and hormonal remedy remedy.
She was, nonetheless, fortunate to seek out good Samaritans who provided her lodging and meals, whereas her buddies in Kigali, led by Efua Hagan, raised funds, albeit below troublesome circumstances, to see her by means of remedy.
A Covid-19 scare and the primary demise happening within the hospital she was present process remedy sophisticated all the course of.
All through all these struggles, her plan was to seek out time when she was effectively sufficient to go to Uganda and spend time together with her father, as she hadn’t seen him ever since she had began remedy.
Having returned to Rwanda in August 2020, her plan was to mobilise sources and head house in November, if all went effectively. That they had been speaking as she usually up to date him on the remedy course of and her enterprise plans. He was nervous about her and anxiously ready for her.
The identical month she was purported to go house, she bought a name from her sister informing her that the previous man had developed a chilly. She didn’t speak to him as he was having some respiration difficulties.
On November 22, 2020, she bought a name from her brother that confirmed the worst. Her father had handed on resulting from suspected Covid-19 problems. She threw the telephone away in shock.
“I mentioned no, it is a lie! He can’t go on, you already know, he’s supposed to attend for me, as a result of I used to be trying ahead to seeing him. I imply he has been ready to see his daughter who has been out and in of hospitals. I mentioned this could’t be taking place,” Tsapwe recollects.
It was probably the most painful factor, her father passing away earlier than they may meet once more after two years. His demise left her grief stricken and worse nonetheless, she couldn’t journey to bury him.
It has been a troublesome journey for her, characterised by ache, grief and monetary difficulties, however above all, she continues to be grateful to her buddies and well-wishers who’ve stored her going.