Adenike Oyetunde was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma (cancer of the bone) when she was 20 years old and still in the university, and it changed her life totally as she had her right leg amputated to keep her alive.
The beautiful lawyer and on-air personality is alive to tell her inspiring story 10 years after fighting and beating cancer. In a chat with ENCOMIUM Weekly she tells us how she discovered she had cancer, the treatments, the healing process and how she’s been coping with a prosthetic leg…
10 years after, how does it feel to win the fight against cancer?
I know I didn’t ‘win’ the fight per say by myself, so I must first attribute glory to who is worthy of all of it, God. If you live in a time like this, where any and every body can go down with cancer; regardless of their financial status; and you live ten years after that, cancer free, it’s nothing but humbling, and a constant reminder that time is ticking.
How and when did you discover that you had cancer?
I was carrying a bucket of water, and slipped. I had landed on my right knee and in pain, for a few minutes, I got up and returned to school (I had gone home for the weekend). Do I blame myself for having gone home that weekend, of course not. I was brought back home, after a few days, when I couldn’t walk.
I was taken to the hospital, and was told I had a blood clot, due to the trauma from the fall. I had a major and minor drainage, in the space of about two to three months, then I was referred to the National Orthopedic Hospital, where the diagnosis was confirmed as Osteogenic Sarcoma (Cancer of the bone), but the amputation was done at the University College Hospital, Ibadan.
Then chemotherapy was next, and I had to return to my regular life, because all I could think about was when I was to take a break from all my routine hospital checks, admissions and visits.
Can you tell us the procedure you went through?
Having tried trado-medical option, gone the ‘old school, village option, and finally resorting to medicine, it was a journey; and a not so pleasant one to recount. I had to undergo two drainages, initially, when we weren’t sure what we were dealing with, then blood transfusion, and the final amputation.
Having to undergo chemotherapy and all the side effects, such as nausea, irritability, weight and hair loss, skin darkening, it was a grueling and draining experience.
Getting my brain to recognize I had a limb again, was another phase I had to deal with. Physical therapy, learning to walk again, which I never thought would ever happen to me, and getting back on both feet, have been an awesome, past ten years.
How much did the treatment cost?
I cannot say affirmatively how much it cost (you will agree with me that it’s been a while). But, I sure know, we could not afford it. I remember, a course of chemotherapy then was about N21,000, and I needed that a number of times.
If I had to put an amount to it, pre, during and post amputation, surgery, treatment and a prosthetic limb, may be between N7 to N8 million, as at then.
How were you able to source for the money for treatment?
The initial funds came from our savings as a family, and then subsequently, well wishers. People I knew, a lot of those I still do not know, and thankfully, the post surgery (years later), was by a state government.
How are you coping with having an artificial leg?
It’s tough, having once had both natural limbs. Is it tough every day? No, it isn’t. There are days, I want to wear certain types of fabric, cut out in a certain style, but it just wouldn’t fit. I miss when I could just wake up, get out of bed, and move. I miss that I didn’t have to ask for special parking, or have to find out if a building had a functional elevator, or where I had just go out, without my prosthetic limb, and be me; same old me (I do this a lot now, but it took a while).
Coping, because I literally don’t have a choice, but more importantly because, it’s now a part of my story. I must get it over with.
Does it make you feel inferior in anyway?
I may have started out feeling less of myself, but I’m thankfully and prayerfully handling that. From time to time, of course, I still feel the urge to throw a pity party, but I try to snap out as soon as possible. The few times I let myself drown in this phase, I knew how much work it was to getting out.
Nothing in this world, can take the place of understanding who you are, whose you are. When the understanding of these come through, you see that the value of yourself as a human, is not what you may have suspected all this while. I may not run past your pace, may not jump, dance, swim at your pace, but I sure can give you a run for your money.
What lessons have you learnt over the years?
Life has never meant anything to me, as it now does, particularly it’s transient form. My success is never for me, and my immediate family My tongue has and is still being well taught, so at every point in time, I have the right word to help those weary, per time. I also learn to rest and don’t cheat people.
Never believe in ‘prayer contractors, praying is a direct, personal, dialogue.
Have you found love?
Yes, Now I know love; because love found me first. Through the years, I may not have known and understood that feeling wanted at a certain point in time is normal, and I tried filling in that space. I found love in God, though it’s a journey, still understanding the dynamics of that awesome love. In terms of romantic love, no, I haven’t found love. May be ‘love’ is reading this now. Hello bae, be fast now, haba, been waiting for you oh.
You are a lawyer and an OAP, how do you juggle between both?
(Laughs) I am qualified to practice law in Nigeria, having successfully gone through the requisite process, however, I am not a legal practitioner. I have faced my love for media, squarely, with very occasional legal jobs, just to keep me in tune.
Your survival story is an inspiring one, what’s your word of encouragement for people going through similar experience?
This has become my mantra, ‘live your life like it’s golden’. A man that understands and appreciates the value of gold, knows that it appreciates (under normal circumstances), and a good investor knows never to misuse it. I am gold, I have been refined, I am a lot better than I was, but malleability requires more fire, even after now. I was made for this, I am wired for this.
- TINUOLA JOSEPH