All she did was quiver with fear knowing the sad news. In torrents of tears, she kept nodding her head from side to side asking God why it was her in the whole wide world.
No doubt 2003 was never a good year for Oda Nsabimana.
Throughout her entire life, she had never dreamt of having cancer, the only deadly disease she had ever been cautious about was HIV/AIDS.
She took her time in choosing the ideal marriage partner, “I went out for some one who was God fearing and disciplined, I never wanted to contract AIDS,” explains Nsabimana.
She had always dreamt of having long satisfactory life and she always worked hard to achieve it. When the uncalled for cancer invaded, all she could do was moan night and day for it was the biggest uninvited blow life had ever given.
Nsabimana discovered this disaster that changed her life in 2003 at 43 years of age.
As she was listening in to a healthy radio program, a doctor was educating women about how to examine breast cancer through massaging their breasts and feeling if there is a lump.
“I felt the lump in my left breast, I went for a test there and then,”Nsabimana confidently says.
Gaining the confidence is also a story in itself. To receive her results, Nsabimana thought going with someone wasn’t necessary.Afterall no one in her family had ever been diagnosed by cancer.
“All I took was my bible, I promised to thank God if the test was negative for I was almost sure it was,” says Nsabimana.
All she recalls after receiving the results is her being in her home church, Zion Temple asking God why it had to happen.
Nsabimana can barely tell how she got to the church! She kept repeating the same words all over again, ‘God I’ve served you but it seems like I am not one of your favorite daughters. How could you do this to me, how will I leave my husband and kids.’
Nsabimana had lived her life for her kids and husband! It was more of a nightmare to leave them; the cancer wasn’t fair at all.
Her husband had no job then, she had always toiled to satisfy all her family needs. How on earth would she dare tell her four kids that she was dying!
The beginning was quite challenging.
“I told my husband that I needed to sell some of our property so that I could go for treatment in Aghakan Hospital in Nairobi,” she explains.
Though Nsabimana’s husband was ready to do all he could to help her, his family had given up on Nsabimana.
“I recall one of my in-laws calling me selfish, that I wanted to leave behind beggars. She confirmed cancer was incurable so then why sell anything in pretext of seeking treatment,”Nsabimana says sadly.
With all the negativity that surrounded her, she knew she was going to die but she all she wished for was death out of Rwanda.
She wanted to die from far away so that her children would just hear about the sad news.
On arrival to Nairobi, her hope to live was revived again. The extremely beautiful young girl admitted in the same ward with her gave her all the lost courage and zeal to continue the fight for life.
“I looked at her, half covered. Her face was jolly as she continued with sewing a piece of cloth,” says Nsabimana. The 21 year old asked her what she was in the hospital for and gave her some information about what usually happens.
Little did Nsabimana know that the girl was a cancer patient and her right leg had been cut off. The girl had realized she had cancer a few days to her wedding!
With this, Nsabimana changed her attitude and prayer. Atleast she had kids and a husband to live for. She wasn’t as unfortunate as the young girl though girl had chosen to be happy.
“No matter what, nothing can ever deprive me of my happiness. Especially things that I can’t change,” that kept on lingering in Nsabimana’s mind after the girl had said it.
Nsabimana started the chemotherapy, the doctor told her that her hair would break off but the risk was worth taking.
“I saw all my hair break off mostly when I was bathing,” she explains.
Nsabimana began traveling from Nairobi to Kigali every after 21 days. She would be on the bus for 24 hours but all she wanted was continue with her duties as a mother, business woman and take the treatment as well.
“Not even cancer could stop me,” she says.
Meanwhile, her children learnt from their friends at school that one of their mother’s breasts had been cut off. It was so sad for them but she had to assure them that she would live, atleast for them.
Since then, Nsabimana has gone to Belgium, China and Nairobi for routine checkups and treatment. Part of her treatment fees was paid by the Rwandan government.
Cancer having been her hardest test in life, she decided to preach to other women suffering with breast cancer about hope and life.
In her NGO dubbed ‘Ubuzima nkambere’ many cancer infected women have been cancelled. Also routine testing has been taught to women.
“The earlier the better, women should stop taking breasts as very private. Feel free to talk about any problem about them,” she says.
To increase on their days of living, Nsabimana and her friends have decided to be jolly about the whole matter.
“I look at my big scar and laugh about it, am used to staying with cancer and I have hoped that I shall not die,” she says.
For the past six years, Nsabimana has lived with breast cancer and more determined to live for more years.