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Agnes Tonui is a cancer survivor thanks to the Live with Hope Centre in Kericho, Kenya run by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. Photo: Sinead Murray.

Agnes Tonui is a beneficiary of the Live with Hope Centre in Kericho, Kenya run by the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. The Live with Hope Centre provides static and mobile primary healthcare services. In recent years the centre has noticed a rapid increase in non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes. In response to this increase the centre runs preventative education sessions and screenings for cervical cancer and diabetes as well as other non-communicable and communicable diseases with the help of community health works and staff.

Agnes originally attended the clinic with her husband for HIV services as she and her husband are both living positively with HIV. During this time Agnes was caring for her husband who was unwell and unable to walk or eat. The centre supported them both with self-management of HIV. Agnes also attended an education session on cervical cancer.

“I am very happy that I was assisted by St. Luke’s Clinic. I didn’t know that cervical cancer was developing in my cervix. I attended the free medical check-up because it was announced and I came out of curiosity and I went with some of my friends. It was just normal and fun with a little bit of fear of the unknown.”

Agnes recognised the symptoms mentioned in the session and reported this to staff at the clinic. They screened her and she was found to have stage 1 cervical cancer. The Live with Hope staff referred her to the Kericho District Hospital for treatment. Agnes was booked in for an operation. Afterwards, Agnes was transported back home by the St. Luke’s ambulance.  At home, she was monitored by St. Luke’s clinicians and was also assisted with medicine from St. Luke’s pharmacy. Shortly after that, Agnes felt abdominal pain and she was referred again to Kericho District Hospital for a scan. After the scan, she was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst and she is currently under medication and responding well under the supervision of the clinicians.

“When I was diagnosed, I became so restless, but the clinician restored calmness in my soul when he assured me that the disease was just in the initial stages and that I would be referred to Kericho District Hospital for a further check-up by a specialist who would confirm the diagnosis and then initiate the process of operation. This would mean removing a section of the cervix with the intention of stopping the spread of the cancerous cells. At first, I felt things were so complicated and as the clinician was drafting the referral letter, I was worried about how to cover the costs of the treatment.  I was so relieved when he told me that St. Luke’s Health Centre would cater for treatment and transport. I thank the sponsors of St. Luke’s because if it was not for St. Luke’s initiative to screen for cervical cancer, I don’t know what would have happened to me. Thank you, Misean Cara for your great care and support to people, especially us women of Motobo Village and the entire population of Kericho County.”

Now, Agnes and her husband are both working to support their four children through education, one of which is currently studying in university. Agnes credits the sisters and the staff at the Live with Hope centre for the treatment care and education she has received, and for her quality of life today.