“If somebody tells you [that] you have cancer, you think it’s the end of you.” Samuel Kimutai Kitum, a middle-aged civil servant from Eldoret, Kenya, remembers exactly how he felt when he received a diagnosis of thyroid cancer – as if his whole body and spirit just shut down. But Samuel’s experience in the months following this terrifying moment tells a story of hope. With excellent, timely medical treatment and rigorous healthcare management, he learned that even cancer is no death sentence.
A swollen neck prompted Samuel’s first visit to his local doctor. When a cyst was discovered, he underwent an operation in Kenya to take samples for biopsy. The results were malignant: Samuel had thyroid cancer. In seeking treatment guidance from Kenyan hospitals, he learned that India was the best place for him to undergo treatment for this particular type of cancer. And as a civil servant, the expense of his international medical journey was eligible for coverage by Kenya’s National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) – a critical benefit now available to all NHIF members.
The NHIF introduced Samuel to A&K Global Health, and our Care Consultants immediately began coordinating the diverse aspects of his journey, from his visa, travel and accommodations to his treatments, appointments and financial arrangements with his insurance. Samuel recalls A&K Global Health’s support to him during such a difficult personal time with great appreciation: “They are good friends, they are good people – they are good family,” he says. And the same family that helped Samuel prepare in Kenya received him in Bangalore, easing what could otherwise have been a difficult transition to a new country and culture amid distressing health challenges. Our Operations Officers met Samuel at the airport and settled him into his guesthouse straightaway. First thing the next morning, they returned to take him to BGS Global Hospital, where he was to be treated.
A&K Global Health had carefully selected BGS Global Hospital for Samuel, whose cancer was exceptionally dangerous to treat through surgery. Dr. Mukunda N.K., Consultant Surgical Oncologist and head of Samuel’s care team, acknowledges the sophistication necessary to care for his condition. “Any papillary carcinoma [cancerous cyst] of the thyroid four centimeters long requires a total thyroidectomy…and a cancer surgery in the area of the thyroid is always problematic for surgical approach.” This is due in part to the thyroid’s proximity to the parathyroid glands, which carefully regular calcium – the element that enables the functioning of many other systems in our bodies – and which are at risk during a dramatic surgery like a thyroidectomy.
Despite these challenging circumstances, Dr. Mukunda and his team were able to neatly remove both of Samuel’s thyroid lobes while preserving the delicate glandular structure surrounding his thyroid area. “Postoperatively he did very well, his voice was well preserved, and he did not even have any symptoms of hypocalcaemia,” says Dr. Mukunda, referencing the clinical indication that the surgery had not damaged Samuel’s parathyroid glands. Says Samuel, with gratitude emanating from his healthy voice: “I was healed.”
“Thank you very much, NHIF Kenya. Thank you for what you did…[the] steps you have taken are very important to the lives of workers in Kenya,” Samuel declares, recognizing the profound impact that comprehensive healthcare insurance played in granting him access to the overseas care that could cure his cancer. And to A&K Global Health, Samuel likewise offers his genuine thanks: “I am [unable to forget] about A&K Global Health…they are very good people, they are generous…and they are a team! I thank you especially for celebrating with me my cure, taking care of me, traveling, accommodation – you have come always to [ask] me what’s the problem I have – and you are the people to take care of me. Thank you very much.”
“I am free from cancer. I am now a happy man.” This amazing truth is plainly evidenced by the radiant smile that stays on Samuel’s face throughout this short video. Hear him tell his story:
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