A Teacher’s Long, Desperate Wait for Final Surgery

For Kenyans out of Nairobi, surgery can easily change life for good or worse.

One primary school teacher in Embu feared she had cancer, but a growth on her body was found to be benign.

What should have been a cause for celebration has however turned her life into misery.

Aquirine Njoki Njue teaches at Kiarimui Primary School near Runyenjes Town.

She started complaining of minor left hip joint and lower back pain in mid 2011. “I sought treatment and was misdiagnosed with arthritis at Macumo clinic, Ena Tenri and Arimis in Embu,” she says.

However, the condition deteriorated early 2012 and she was admitted at St Michael Nursing Home in Runyenjes where lab tests, normal x-rays and CT scans failed to yield any diagnosis.

In February, an MRI showed a spinal meningioma (growth). “I was operated on at Nyeri General Hospital by a neurosurgeon from Kenyatta National Hospital,” says the mother of one.

This operation changed her life completely. It led to numbness and weakness of her lower limb and she has been confined to a wheelchair since then.

Recent MRI scans show that the growth was partially removed but it has continued to regrow.

However, there is still a chance for surgery to remove the growth and and help her leave the wheelchair.

she is required to raise Sh1 million for a repeat surgery at Nairobi hospital if she has to improve.

“My family cannot raise amount of money and that’s why I am appealing for help. People can reach me on 0711295032 and 0711695032,” she says.

A benign tumour tends to be slower growing and does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body the way cancer can.

If a spinal cord tumour is diagnosed the most common form of treatment is for it to be removed by surgery.

This will be carried out by a neurosurgeon. In some cases it isn’t possible to remove the whole tumour and the growth of the residual tumour is usually monitored by regular MRI scans.

Sometimes surgery isn’t recommended because the damage it might do to the nervous system is considered too risky.

Long term effects of benign spinal cord tumours can be very difficult to predict. Sometimes the nerves can recover to some extent but in other cases there may be some permanent nerve damage.