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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Husband Who Stood By His Wife While She Battled Breast Cancer

Ugandan couple Mercy and Geoffrey Tayebwa have been through tough times but chose to stand by each other. Their lives changed in 2005 when Mercy discovered a lump in her breast. She says her husband was there for her at the time she needed him for material, social and emotional support. She also miraculously conceived after her cancer treatment after waiting for 13 long years. Their story simply shows that marriage is not all about rosy times, but about being there for each other, about how far you are willing to stand by each other through every difficulty and challenge. Read their story below:

The news of his wife being diagnosed with breast cancer was devastating, but Geoffrey Tayebwa, had to provide a strong shoulder for his wife to cry on. “When my wife broke the news, I got scared but had to be strong for her sake. I encouraged her to go for surgery instead of die in pain,” Tayebwa recalls. Although he has heard stories of fellow men abandoning their wives after they have been diagnosed with breast cancer, it was the last thing on Tayebwa’s mind.

He got a lot of advice on what he should do, but at the end of the day, Tayebwa made the decision to stand by his wife. “Mercy is my wife and my best friend. If I did not stand by her, who would?” The doctors gave him the assurance that if Mercy got treatment before the cancer spreads, she would heal.
Tayebwa says Mercy is a courageous woman who was determined to take her treatment.

After having the mastectomy surgery to remove the affected breast, there was the chemotherapy and its adverse side effects. Mercy lost her hair; her skin and nails darkened; and there was the endless vomiting. Tayebwa recollects how he painfully watched Mercy regurgitate her food. Sometimes it was like she was going to die the next minute.

Tayebwa also got in touch with women from Uganda Women Cancer Support Organisation who had won the battle with breast cancer to visit and encourage Mercy. Tayebwa had to be sensitive on what to say and do to avoid Mercy feeling like she was marginalised because of her illness. He urges fellow men to show affection to their wives during the trying moment when their wives are diagnosed and are undergoing cancer treatment. “Show her that you are there for her because it is at that time that she needs you most,” he says.

For Mercy, she says her husband Geoffrey’s support kept her going. In February 2005, Mercy felt a lump in her left breast. She immediately consulted a doctor who examined and encouraged her to do a mammography (breast examination). The results were not clear, so the oncologists at Uganda Cancer Institute advised her to do a needle aspiration biopsy. The results were also not clear. Mercy was referred to a surgeon, Dr Josephat Jombwe, who recommended that the lump in her breast be removed and taken for pathology. The tissue was confirmed to be cancerous.

Mercy was alone when she picked her results. “I screamed and cried my heart out. Later, I composed myself, drove home and broke the news to my husband,” Mercy says.It was a trying moment, but her husband kept encouraging her. The doctors advised her to have a mastectomy because they did not know how far the cancer had spread. Her surgery in April 2005 was successful. In May 2006, she started chemotherapy. It was the hardest part of her cancer treatment journey. She did not mind losing her hair, or her skin and nails darkening because she had witnessed it with breast cancer patients. Her biggest hurdle was accessing the treatment which was costly. She needed a dose of chemotherapy every 3 weeks.

In October 2006, she completed radiotherapy and was started on hormonal treatment; Tamoxifen which was meant to last five years. Along the way she discovered she was pregnant and had to stop the treatment. What her husband’s support meant to her Mercy recalls that the biggest challenge was waking up early to go for radiotherapy from 6:30am to 7:00am. Luckily, her husband was supportive and drove her to Mulago Hospital every morning.

Mercy remembers how she got a craving for mangoes during chemotherapy. At that time, they were out of season and expensive, but Tayebwa endeavoured to bring her mangoes. “My husband suffered sleepless nights, encouraged and always reminded me to go for treatment on time. If it was not for him may be I would not have completed my treatment. I almost gave up on the third dose of chemotherapy due to severe vomiting,” she says. Mercy says Tayebwa has become so passionate about cancer. He has learnt, the hard way, what it means to give support to a cancer patient.

When Mercy Tayebwa was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was 36 years old. Her first son was 13.
Tayebwa never expected his wife to conceive again given that some of the ripple effects of cancer treatment are interfering with a woman’s fertility. He considers Mercy’s pregnancy during hormonal treatment a miracle. “We had waited 13 years for our second baby. She came after the cancer treatment and more so, the breast is gone,” says Mercy. “The coming of our 2nd child, Elsie Nyonyozi, now 7 years old, is something I consider a reward for our patience,” Tayebwa says. “It showed me that Mercy’s losing one breast was not the end of everything."

Source - newvision

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