Lydia Bujara; God’s champion to defeat cancer through awareness creation?
By Watchdog Reporter
“El Cuerpo del Deeseo” is Spanish for Second Chance. It was also a popular soap on NTV in 2009 featuring a wealthy Oldman; Pedro Jose Donso (Andres Garcia) who dies but gets a second chance to live again. His soul migrates into the body of another man Mario Cimarro (Salvador) to return to his beautiful wife; Lorena Rojas (Isabel Arroyo) and set things straight in his earlier life and save those he truly loved and loved him back.
Lydia Bujara’s story resonates with that ofPedro of Second Chance, the soap. She has survived two breast cancer attacks to set straight your life and save us from cancers by; creating awareness around it and warn us to appreciate the little things in life when we still have the chance.
Interestingly, Lydia watches no soaps and therefore, does not know any Salvador or Isabel, wife to Pedro who a year ago died of breast cancer, which she had been battling since 2008. And she had kept quiet about it despite the platform she had to save many. That is how far apart Lydia and Isabel are; one is dead and the other is alive talking to whoever can listen about cancer.
In November, 2005, 10 years after losing her father to cancer of the liver, Lydia was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had accompanied a couple to AAR clinic. On reaching the clinic, her friends walked in the doctor’s room. As she waited outside the room, there was a long line of people set for a free breast cancer screening. To while away the time, she too joined the line.Shortly, she was before the doctor who looked at her with wooden face.
“He lacked emotion. He looked at me and looked at the paper and looked at me again, his hands shaking. Suddenly, something seized my heart and I was suffocating. I felt a heavy tonne load of stones on my head. I could not breathe. A river of tears flowed from my eyes without a stop. I wanted to yell. I felt hollow, empty, confused and desolate.I was hit with a bomb, totally unprepared and vulnerable. I was so alone, yet outside that room, in the outer world, was a loving family and a boyfriend,” Lydia explains.
A biopsy from the left breast was sent to Nairobi to confirm the findings. Her boyfriend who lived in Nairobi asked her to travel to Nairobi immediately. A series of tests were carried out and the painful treatment started on 15th April 2006 at 10.00am through an intravenous drip in her arm.
The silence, moments of insanity
All this time, no member of her family knew. She had become reclusive and coming to terms with the death sentence. Cancer had crept into her life and made its home. It had devoured future plans. It laughed at her and turned her world upside down.
“I changed totally from a happy go lucky girl in her youth to an insane one with a death sentence over her head. Thecancer gnawed my inner being and was thinking about death; where I would be buried, how I would be buried and who would come for my burial. It was at a time when there was little information;
I was afraid to speak to anyone about my situation and everyone; my workmates, my friends and family were worried for me. I simply sat in silence and let thoughts run wild. My family got to know about it when I was on the 3rd cycle of treatment. This is very bad idea, which I don’t recommend. Do not keep quiet about the cancer. It will finish you!”
She says that it is easier said to advise anybody with a life-threatening illness but so difficult to come to terms with.
“I had my episodes of insanity. I became abusive to my caretakers and I hung on an emotional cliff! Anything would irritate and annoy me! My nails became black, my body was one hell of a scratch. I lost my crown of beauty; my hair and bought hundreds of wigs. I went into denial,”
Treatment and recovery
Her family, friends, her employersand her Rotary Club of Kampala Central footed the bills. Her boyfriend who was based in Nairobi would buy the medicine from Nairobi clinics and send it over to Kampala on Akamba bus.
“One day, my dear aunt, the late Mrs. Joan MurumuRwanjeru came to my room and read me the Bible story of David and Goliath. She told me how this cancer was the Goliath and I was the David. While Goliath was a 9 feet tall giant with a bronze helmet, David, a tiny young soul whose weaponry was enjungu (sling) and five stones in his pockets, with one shot, killed the giant and saved God’s children,
After reading me the story from the book of 1Samuel 17, she told me, breast cancer is the new Goliath but with my spirit and my God, together, we shall hurl one stone and hit cancer on it forehead and cut off its head,” She reveals.
That is all Lydia needed, a simple Bible to fight back the cancer. She truly saw herself as David set on killing Goliath. She turned her anger and stigma from wherever to the cancer. She abandoned the wigs and accepted the baldness, and the routine hospital visits for CT scans and blood draws.
She accepted her physical and emotional pain a new diet devoid of MEAT full of leafy greens, green juice, and more leafy greens. From April to November, 2006 her dessert was a chemotherapy pill every night with nasty side effects that were terribly difficult to cope with. By the end of the year, she was given a clear bill health report and was eager to get on with normal life again.
A call for motherhood and donating her kidney
In 2008, she got her baby with her boyfriend who had stood by her during the terrible fight. She named her Malaika but her aunt; Joan MurumuRwanjeru named the baby Kirabo. Shortly after, in November of the same year, her dear aunt, fell ill. She needed a kidney donor. Tests were done, other than being of the same blood group and compatibleLydia was found to be more emotionally stable than all the other donors that had come forward to save Rwanjeru. Lydia attributes to her emotional stability from the cancer attack experience.
“I was so set to save my aunt because she had saved me not only from the cancer. When my father died in 1995, on the day of burial, my mother collapsed and died. She was buried two days after her husband. The people who went to bury my father in Nyabikoni, Kabale Municipality, stayed to bury my mother too;
Aunt Joan brought us to her home in Bugolobi Block 8 B5 and saw us through school. She gathered up to 30 children under her care and I was one of them. I was ready to do anything to save her life. Unfortunately, she only lived for a month after the kidney transplant.
Second breast cancer attack:
“In 2010, while on a routine checkup, the cancer had re-occurred. The Goliath was back!!! This time with vengeance of the previous defeat. I was overcome with grief. I cried for hours and was inconsolable;
But I was ready for a fight; fight for my little daughter, for my late aunt, for my family, for Rotary, for my employers and all cancer survivors and sufferers. I remember saying a little prayer on my drive home and I heard a voice say; “I am with you.”I was back on treatment but this time stronger. I did not want cancer to take away the little joys of life. My Kikiga spirit was much more alive and ready for a fight. Finally, I overcame the cancer but not without resolutions.
The resolve and appeal for awareness creation
“I have chosen to dedicate my whole life to the cancer fight. It is the reason I am not ashamed of it. While it does not define me, it is part of my story. While it has robbed me of the blissful ignorance to think tomorrow stretched forever,it has granted the wisdom to see each today as special, a gift.I have gained a new level of appreciation after my cancer fight, but that is just a warm-up,” Bujara says.
She is set to meet the greatest people in the land just so that they can join her to create awareness about all forms of cancer.
“I am ready to meet the President, Mama Janet and the Prime Minister and tell them that they cannot afford to keep quiet about cancer. As they stood behind the HIV/AIDs fight, they need to stand behind the cancer fight and join the little Davids out there to defeat Goliath. By the time cancer signs appear, the person is finished. Everyone needs to go and out and test” She advises.