In my line of duty working at the health institution where the Henzo Kenya CML and GIST survivors were receiving treatment back in 2005, I encountered patients who had a lot of questions ranging from the side effects they were experiencing from medication, what to or not to eat while receiving treatment and just general need for psychosocial support.
As I was not a patient, I could not provide answers to most of these questions and so out of these needs an idea was born to bring together the patients in a forum where they could share and support each other. In collaboration with a fellow colleague and two patients, Henzo Kenya was born. Henzo Kenya was registered in 2007 as a community-based organization, having successfully organized several patients support and education meetings and has continued to grow from strength to strength.
Being involved with Henzo has also been of personal benefit especially when my own father became diagnosed with Oesophagus cancer in 2010. I was able to be a good caregiver to him, having had experience offering support to patients in Henzo Kenya.
This benefit has trickled down to my current role as the Max Foundation representative; the organization which provides treatment access donations to the patients in Henzo Kenya. The experience in Henzo over the years have greatly influenced my understanding on the importance of providing patients with psychosocial support besides access to treatment; as part of their treatment journey. The cancer treatment journey is challenging enough and when a patient is able to walk the journey with someone who understands his or her journey, it makes a huge impact on the overall outcome of the treatment. I encourage people to volunteer in patient support organizations; it is not only beneficial for the patients but the experiences shared leaves a lasting impact on one’s self.