I like to touch myself. I believe it's healthy to be familiar with your body, lest you develop a third eye (not the good, all-seeing self-actualization kind) and you didn't know.
I was in Mombasa one year, enjoying the repressive blanket of heat that constantly covers that coastal town, when I noticed a swelling in my boob. (And why did I notice? Because I like to touch myself. It all comes together now, ay.) I was like, um. There's, like, a swelling. In my boob. There wasn't one before, was there?
There wasn't. So I started to mildly panic. I say mildly because I'm those silly people who think it can never happen to me. Insolent, and ignorant. But I guess you're so rooted in denial that something, anything, could marr the orderly structure of your not-so-perfect life, that you automatically refuse any threats to it.
I stayed with the lump in my breast for quite a while. I didn't do anything about it until the next year (it was December, I did something about it in January). Why did I wait, other than paralysing fear?
I didn't have insurance. And even worse for me was the thought that something may actually be wrong and I would be in NO WAY financially equipped to deal with such a catastrophe. SO I got insurance, THEN I went to the doctor's.
The coonsultation fee was 2000. Then I had to have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram, because I haven't had any babies. That was 4000. My heart was pounding within my chest the whole time. I was fearful, but detached. By the time she put that cold fluid on my breast, I had set myself up to accept whatever the outcome was going to be; mostly, because I would have no choice.
"It's not cancerous," she said. Something broke within me and I almost wept. " It's a fibroadenoma (sp?)." Which is apparently just a normal lump that happens in women, sometimes. Or something. The point is, it wasn't cancer!! P. H. E. W. (X. Lol.)
I felt fortunate to not have had to go through that. But how many women go through the same thing and fid out it IS cancer? Several, of course. Worse still, how many don't go to get checked - not because they don't want to, but because they can't? I didn't have insurance, but I could get it. How about those who really, would not be able to afford the 6000 shillings needed for a consultation and an ultrasound?
The healthcare system in Kenya saddens me imensely, mostly because it's easy for an outsider looking in to believe that it only caters to the elite, those who can afford it. I have no idea what is being done about it, and no idea what a common mwananchi would do. Someone needs to educate me: what is being done to make healthcare more affordable? Is free healthcare a feasible plan, or an unachieavable ideal? What can we do? Because there is someone out there just like me who has a lump, and is frightened terribly, and feels completely powerless; and if the government can't help, maybe the people can. Maybe the people should.