I couldn’t breastfeed my 5 children - cancer survivor

Thursday October 01 2020
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Honoranta Nakato and her five babies. Nakato is a breast cancer survivor. PHOTO/ Edgar Batte

By EDGAR BATTE

On September 9, five babies celebrated their birthday. With their mother, Honoranta Nakato, they cut cake bear-ing their names; Rhoda, Raymond, Rowena, Rodney and Racheal. They had made two years of age. 

The joy of many mothers is breastfeeding their babies but that was not the case for Nakato, a breast cancer sur-vivor.

“I have only one breast and it could not feed all the five children. That is why we decided that they don’t taste breastmilk at all. Breast cancer became an issue for me not to breastfeed my children,” the teacher by profession, explains. 

Nakato found out that she had breast cancer in October, 2014, and started getting treatment. 

Luckily for her, at the time of discovery, the cancer was still in an infancy stage so the treatment managed to arrest its growth and allow the mother of five to heal and survive it.

“I went through all the process. I got chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and even surgery. Before I got pregnant, I went for a check-up and I was told that I was fine and free of breast cancer.

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I have been going to the hospital for routine reviews to ascertain that I do not have the cancer,” the 44-year-old mother further explains. 

Finding out

After severally feeling a lump in her breast, which prompted her to go to hospital for check up, Nakato was in-formed that she had breast cancer.
It was not good news to her, she was scared but she accepted the results.
Nakato was started on treatment at Uganda Cancer Institute  (UCI)at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Kampala. 

After giving birth, she faced challenges of feeding the children as it turned out she needed formula milk, which is costly. 

Her income, as well as that of the father of the children, who is also a teacher, could sustain the need to feed her five children on a tin of the milk daily costing Shs55,000. 
The babies were born premature and needed to spend a month at Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre in Bukoto. 
Nakato got children after a long search for a pregnancy.
She found a solution at the hospital where she underwent in vitro fertilisation (IVF), a medical technique that helps people with fertility problems have  babies. 

During IVF, an egg is removed from the woman’s ovaries and fertilised with the  sperm in a laboratory. The fertilised egg, called an embryo, is then returned to the woman’s womb to grow and develop. 

“One of my tubes was blocked. At first, I was told I would be operated. I was aging. I opted for IVF. I had tried many places but failed to find a solution,” Nakato discloses. 

With her babies, unable to breastfeed due to an operation to rid her body of cancer, her breast was cut off. There, she was grappling with feeding the newly born babies.

Support

From the point of giving birth, well-wishers and people within her social circles, came to her rescue.

In her home area of Kyanika, in Kyotera, some 180 kilometres from Kampala, Nakato continues to draw attention, owing to being a mother of five, something many people say is uncommon. 

“I did not expect to have five of them. I call them miracle babies because I am the first to get them within my community. I carried the pregnancy for eight months without any complication.  

People wonder how I got it. Every day, I get someone calling to ask to come and see me and my babies,” the teacher narrates.

She adds that when she finally got pregnant, it was a relief and gave her comfort after recuperating from can-cer. To her, it was God’s sign for a new lease of life. 
Currently, Nakato is the bread winner as her  husband, who teaches in a private school, is not earning. 
The couple continues to receive help from family, friends and well-wishers. 

The mother of five advises women to be  keen on taking routine check-ups saying  when discovered in early stages, breast cancer, like other cancers, can be arrested through treatment and following medical guidance.


 

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