How my wife reacted when I was diagnosed with cancer – Soyinka

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Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, says his journey battling cancer has been uncomfortable but easy.

The literary icon was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014 when he went for a routine checkup.

Speaking to BBC, Soyinka said the disease was discovered in its early stage so it was easy to control and treat.

He said he “wasn’t going to be a very good patient” so the doctor told his wife to ensure he followed through with his treatment.

Soyinka said there is no shame in having any disease, adding that cancer is not a death sentence but required willpower to be victorious.

“She just put her head on the steering wheel. I said start the car nah. She just sat there like that. I said, ‘don’t worry, we are going to fight this together’,” Soyinka said.

“It hadn’t yet gotten to the stage where it was not reversible and so gave us a number of guidelines. I say us because he wanted to make sure that my wife made sure that I followed it. He sensed that I wasn’t going to be a very good patient so he spoke to her most of the time rather than to me.

“Mine for me was an easy ride, uncomfortable in many ways but for me, but it is painless.”

“There is no disease in the world in which any human being need be ashamed.

“Cancer is not a death sentence, it is a labour of willpower. Some hard labour is involved but ultimately, you can be victorious.”

Soyinka further revealed that he used a form of advanced technology, “proton therapy”, to treat the disease.

He said it is a shame that people travelled abroad to seek treatment when the technology is available in Nigeria.

“The options, I compared to other treatment I know about and I have seen in operation,” he said.

“And I don’t see why that kind of treatment or similar treatment should not be available. I don’t understand why there should not be a choice.

“I don’t see why people have to go to Canada, Europe to receive treatment which is affordable in this nation, it is a shame.”

Relating environment to health, the octogenarian said he does not visit the gym to exercise and he does not jog.

He said he takes a walk or goes hunting in the bush when he feels sluggish.

“I wish, in fact, I spent more time in this very environment, that in itself I think answers the requirements of human health. It could be purely psychological, it doesn’t matter. But, it’s a feel. The body feels its environment and responds accordingly,” he said.

“I don’t go to the gym and I do not jog. I look at people who are jogging on the streets, some of them…they look ridiculous.

“But I believe that my normal active life is more than sufficient. At least, if I feel sluggish, I take a walk. If I feel very very sluggish, I take my gun and go in the bush and go hunting, not all theses artificial skyscrapers reaching towards nowhere. That is not my idea of home.”

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