Accepting my condition has helped me fight skin cancer

Friday October 23 2020

Mr Philip Makasi shows part of his body that had developed skin cancer. He was operated early this year. PHOTO/ DENIS EDEMA

By Denis Edema

Mr Philip Makasi, 42, a teacher at Bumakenya Primary School in Bungokho District was diagonised with skin cancer in 2018.  

Although some people think cancer is a death sentence, Mr Makasi differs. The father of four says accepting his condition has encouraged him to start living positively .

Mr Makasi, a resident of Bubulo East  Village  Bumbo Town Council in Namisindwa District, says three years ago, he developed small swellings on his back, which eventually became wounds. 

He is one of the persons living with albinism, a condition characterised by lack of the skin pigment.

“I did not pay much attention when the itching started since there was no severe pain. I would go to a skin doctor and was given some tubes to apply on the affected areas. However, the water-like substance oozing out from the wounds started soiling my clothes. That is when I sought proper medication,” recalls Mr Makasi.  

He adds that the acidic discharge created discomfort around his environment. He says he visited Mbale Regional Referral Hospital in 2018 when the swellings turned into wounds.


“The doctors never paid attention to the nature of the wounds. They treated them like normal wounds, but each day they became bigger,  which worried me,”  Mr Makasi says.


He says following the worsening state of his condition, he called one of his friends, a doctor in Hoima District.

The doctor said he was suffering from melanoma, a type of skin cancer, which needed an operation.

Worried that he would need millions  of shillings for the operation, his friend calmed his fears, saying the procedure could be handled in Uganda.

The doctor told Mr Makasi that he needed the operation urgently before the cancer spreads into other parts of the body.

However, Mr Makasi says his Shs400,000 salary could not meet the estimated cost of about Shs8m. 
“I needed money because if I was not operated soon, the situation would worsen.

That is when I realised that people who used to love me when I was healthy and financially stable could not help me when I needed help,”  Mr Makasi says.

Fortunately, early this month, he contacted Mr Peter Ogik, the founder of the Source of the Nile Union of Persons with Albinism, an organisation that fights discrimination against people with  the condition in the eastern region.

Mr Ogik asked him to come to Jinja to see a specialised skin doctor.
Mr Makasi says he did not have the means of transportation and a one  Faruk  contacted him from Jinja offering him the money, including other costs for operation. 


Patient- Phillip Makasi says doctors never paid attention to the nature of the wounds. They treated them like normal wounds, but each day they became bigger, which worried him. PHOTO/DENIS EDEMA


The skin doctor who examined him also recommended an operation which was done successfully in Jinja.

“I thank Mr Ogik for his care and love for rescuing my life because people around me thought I was going to die and had started avoiding, while others had abandoned me,” Mr Mukasi says.

He is currently recovering at a friend’s home in Namisindwa after being discharged.

Mr Ogik says the Shs8m was sourced through the organisation, adding that  other skin cancer patients with albinism are being treated and operated in the region. 


Mr Warrant Webulembo,  the assistant medical superintendent of Bulenge Health Centre III in Namutumba District, says skin cancers arise due to the development of abnormal cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body.

There are three main types of skin cancers. They include Basal-cell skin cancer, squamous-cell skin cancer and Melanoma.

Basal-cell skin cancer and squamous-cell skin cancer are also known as nonmelanoma skin cancer have less common skin cancer. 

Mr Webulembo says Melanoma skin cancer is one of the most aggressive ones. It rarely occurs in the mouth, intestines or eyes. It affects the legs in women while in men,  it  commonly occurs on the back.

Symptoms: Small swellings that keep changing seize, shape, colour, irregular edges, itching and bleeding when the wound is exposed.
Cause: It can be genetic.
Treatment: There many forms of treatment for melanoma skin cancer depending on the patient’s options, through surgery, immunotherapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, among others.