Monday, August 18, 2014

Update on Ketty Okoth

An update written by Mary Britton on Ketty Okoth.  Planning on having a personal update sometime in the next few days! 

We’ve just welcomed Aunt Ketty home again. BUT, not from Nairobi!  She has only been away four days in Kampala!

Our hopes for completing her treatment in Kampala have finally materialized into reality!

Just three weeks ago Ketty was able to fly home from her second round of chemo and radiation in Nairobi because a generous, dedicated donor marked the funds specifically for the flight. We had received excellent care and two rounds of chemo and radiation by wonderful nurses and doctors at MP Shah hospital. We were cared for and catered to by a tremendous staff at a Christian guest house in Nairobi, and now we are back HOME receiving exactly what Ketty needs!!!

Just two weeks ago, those of us who are helping to manage Ketty's care met with Ketty and Okoth to discuss the way forward. We had been praying for God to show us which way to pursue and He began immediately to reveal the intricate weaving of his plan. 

Having been home from Nairobi just one week when we all met together, she was already getting stronger each day and was anxious to get chemo started. The Nairobi staff had set her next appointment for September 1st, but she was not comfortable waiting that long for the next phase of her treatment (neither were we).

Ketty shared her heart with us that she truly didn't want to return to Nairobi and be away from her family. We reiterated that such was our first and strongest desire as well. But, where to go in Kampala? Was there even an option open to us? Were there any doctors giving chemo outside of the large government hospital where we had attempted treatment, without success, back in April? Most of us who left that meeting left with some sort of research assignment.

Geoff called upon a friend who now works in Kampala, but had worked for years at Kiwoko hospital. His request was simple, "Can you help us to understand our options for Ketty to receive chemo in-country?"  Shortly after our committee meeting with the Okoth's, in which we had all prayed for an in-country doctor, full of humility and willing to pick up where we left off from Nairobi, our friend called back with the name of an oncologist who administers chemotherapy from the International Hospital in Kampala!

A week ago Friday Geoff, Ketty and I met with Dr. Omoding, a humble, Christian man willing to pick up where we left off in Nairobi. He was gracious and thorough and wanted to start chemo the following week! In addition, his chemo choice is the most up-to-date regimen for esophageal cancer!

Last Monday, in preparation for chemo on Wednesday,  Ketty went in with her daughter and had the necessary blood work and a couple of other helpful pre-therapy tests completed. When we returned on Wednesday, unfortunately the red blood count report showed she was too low to receive chemo and instead she was admitted for a transfusion. Being that we arrived on the ward near shift change, they waited to start until after 9 p.m. After 9 p.m. turned into 1:30 a.m. as, when they hung the blood, Ketty noticed it was not her O+ blood type and asked the nurse to stop. The nurse reran the type and cross match again from the tubes used in the earlier draw and confirmed A+. A third and completely new draw and third type and cross match revealed indeed Ketty is A+. She had been typed O+ a few years ago at another medical clinic in Kampala. Thank the good Lord for the diligence and dedication to accuracy here at the International Hospital!

During our time of waiting for the blood transfusion, I asked her what kind of foods she eats often or likes most. She included liver, ground nuts, eggs, millet porridge with milk, and chicken. When the cafeteria representative arrived and told her the options for meals Ketty smiled when she realized she would be receiving liver for supper, millet and eggs for breakfast, and chicken for lunch! God is the perfect provider! She is strong and eating very well. 

Though a broken radiation machine--currently the only machine in Uganda--was the catalyst for sending us to Nairobi in the first place, our heart’s desire to have her near her family has never waned. Now that the radiation portion of her treatment is completed, we are thankful that God led us to a doctor we didn’t know existed when we started this journey!

Here we are three weeks earlier than the intended start date projected by Nairobi and she’s already receiving a harder hitting and more effective chemo than originally planned!

God's timing and orchestration is beautiful and beyond what we could arrange ourselves.

God is GOOD!

Without the guesthouse accommodation fees and travel costs to and from Nairobi, we will be able to treat Ketty here for much less of a financial investment as far as those two entities are concerned. 

Thank you for standing with her and the entire family in prayer and financial support.

As we move forward in this journey, given the nature of a patient receiving chemo, any fever of 37.5C or above is considered an emergency requiring blood work and a possible jaunt into Kampala. 

Here in are two important prayer requests: that she have no fevers during her treatment and that she will not require hospitalization from this point forward in the treatment cycles! 

Usually, chemo does not require an admittance. It is the need for a blood transfusion this time which required her being admitted. I spoke with the oncologist yesterday and asked if for the following courses of chemo we could check her red blood count from Kiwoko, possibly even receive a transfusion from Kiwoko if necessary, and only travel into Kampala for the chemo administration. He agreed that was possible.

I made such requests of the doctor as we had to jump through quite a few hurdles this week when we found out her hemoglobin was too low for chemotherapy. The admission meant I could not attend to her in the hospital as there was no bed for me to sleep in next to her. It meant two extra nights in a guest house. It also took much longer than I expected for her to receive the two units of blood (more than 24 hours as they split the infusions more than 12 hours apart.) Together we arrived around 6 p.m. to the guest house on Thursday evening after the final blood transfusion ended late enough that the delay ensured we would have to wait until Friday for the chemotherapy infusion.

We arrived bright and early at the hospital Friday morning and found her hemoglobin well above the doctor’s set parameter of 10--she was 13.2!! However, another delay meant she waited from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. before the chemo was actually started. I had left her with Aunt Lucy as I needed to get back home to attend to my own family. She and Lucy arrived back at the guest house just short of 9 p.m. Friday night. All the waiting made for a very long day. 

Me, Ketty and Lucy at IHK on Friday morning

Having her back home in Kasana is a real blessing! Her first follow-up appointment as a part of this first round of treatment will be toward the end of this week.

The projected ending date of her sixth and final chemo treatment is the week before Christmas.

Home for Christmas! Hallelujah!

Blessings, thanks and appreciation to all of you!

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