Just like the dreaded HIV/Aids pandemic, cancer has taken a toll on Kenyans and not only us in Kenya, but across the world over, causing havoc to families. The disease, according to historians, was christened the name by a Greek physician called Hippocrates, who lived between (460-370 BC) and is widely considered the world’s “Father of Medicine”.
Hippocrates used the terms carcinos and carcinoma to describe non-ulcer forming and ulcer-forming tumours in the body which in the Greek way of thinking, means a crab. The disease, according to research studies, is caused by genetic changes that lead to uncontrolled cell growth and tumour formation.
The basic cause of sporadic (non-familial) cancers is DNA damage and genomic (genes) instability but other scientists in their own opinion, believe that minority of cancerous disease results from inherited genetic mutations in the body system.
However, be it as it may, it is bolt from the blue that from the dawn of history, many have written about cancer and we, who still are living, must continue with the thrust of writing about cancer with the same gusto as we did when HIV/Aids came calling, to create greater and more awareness of the disease that is now at the centre of consuming humanity. The trails of agony and bewilderment cancer has left behind families worldwide is not only saddening, but also devastating, so to speak.
Only last weekend, our societal heroes and heroines succumbed to cancer after some of them battled it for as long as 28 years. Last Saturday, we interred one of the greatest daughters of this country, the later governor of Bomet, Dr Joyce Laboso. As if that was not enough, we saw the late Kibra MP, Ken Okoth, come out gallantly to fight out the malady but too was brought down the same disease. What a tragedy!
The latest to succumb to the killer disease being University of Nairobi great AIDS researcher and lecturer Dr.Sobbie Mulindi who died on Tuesday August 6.
Much more early, we had lost one the most respected corporate authorities in the country, Safaricom’s chief executive officer Bob Collymore due to Leukemia. But not only are we speaking for the privileged few in society that are the high and mighty that has fallen down to cancer and other diseases, but as national disasters. But unlike cancer, we rarely acknowledge our own dying of HIV/Aids, though HIV/Aids like cancer, has continued to eat the fibre of society.
According to studies, some of the earliest evidence of cancer can be traced to fossilised bone tumours, human mummies in ancient Egypt and ancient manuscripts. Scientists believe that growths suggestive of the bone cancer called osteosarcoma have been seen in mummies.
But all said and done, we still got to do more with aggressiveness as a country, in collocation with the World Health Organisation to fight this menace. Some scientists have argued that cannabis sativa (bhang) can be the antidote to the disease when converted into medicinal use. We need to explore that theory as a country.
We are also aware that there is a Bill pending in the national assembly to bhang legalised to form the basis of the war of fighting the disease. It is argued that when converted to medicinal use, bhang has the capacity to wedge a decisive fight against cancer. Our MPs must come to their senses when debating on this Bill when it comes up in the house. Yes, cancer should be declared a national disaster!
So far, countries that have legalised the medical use of cannabis sativa include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Norway, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Switzerland, and Thailand. In the United States, 33 states and the District of Columbia have legalised the stuff for medical but at the federal level, its use remains prohibited.