By Greg Paton, Technical Advisor, Uganda NCD Alliance. Kampala, Uganda
“What could I have done to prevent my cancer?”
This question was posed to me by a mother living in a small hut on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda. The nurse informed me that the women had advanced colorectal cancer and was no longer responding to treatment. I found myself at a loss for words.
I was accompanying the mobile palliative care team at Hospice Africa Uganda on their weekly rounds to distribute free morphine. As the nurse shared key cancer prevention strategies – early screening, avoiding tobacco, eating healthy and regular exercise – the woman pledged to educate others in her village, offering hope that her experience with cancer could be used to empower and educate her peers.
Eight months after moving to Uganda, the overwhelming statistics that framed my perception of these conditions have been replaced by human stories. Poverty is the narrative of these stories, and the poor and vulnerable are the central characters.