Shamim Nantaza, at 12 years, had a dream of completing her studies and become a journalist only her beautiful dream to be shattered when she was diagnosed with parotid cancer, in 2003. Shamim who has two siblings, is the eldest child in her family. The doctors at Mulago Hospital in Kampala put her on treatment and later referred her to Hospice Africa Uganda for palliative care.
Although she has not been healed, now 23 years old Shamim lives gracefully and happy with her new lease of life of no suffering and free of pain where she is playing a pivotal role in supporting her fellow cancer patients. At Hospice Africa Uganda, she has been receiving drugs which have enormously reduced her pain.
“This period was the hardest of my life. I was weak, sad and in a lot of pain. I could hardly sleep through the night. I wasn’t taking any painkillers. I only had valium (a sedative) and my family had taken me to different hospitals in search of hope and a way to survive the cancer,” Narrated Shamim.
She added: “A friend of mine called Shelly brought me to Hospice Africa Uganda and this was the start to my road to recovery. The doctors and nurses were so caring and greatly helped me to understand my illness and to face it with courage.”
“I have been receiving palliative care for over 10 years. Previously, I used to experience a lot of pain. Today, am free of pain and been able to participate in some work with my sister who owns a hardware shop at home and am currently a day-care volunteer with Hospice Africa Uganda
Every Tuesday at Hospice Africa Uganda is patients’ day care for all those suffering from life limiting illnesses especially HIV/Aids and cancer. On this day, patients enrolled in this program are supported to come to any of HAU’s 3 sites in Kampala, Hoima or Mbarara in order to have a break from the monotony of staying at home, interact with other patients, get routinely checked and also to free the care givers at home so they can attend to other important programs in their lives.
On Tuesday, Shamin will be at HAU Kampala office by 9am, ensure that the children’s play room is well organized, the toys are all set for the children to play and a clear plan for key activities for that day is in place too. As the children begin to arrive, she welcomes them and gets them all engaged according to age. Children in the program are from 3 to 16 years so some get out to play with toys, others ride bicycles or get down to drawing and while the elder ones are at times engaged in making jewelries and crafts.
Shamin ensures that all the children are comfortable and enjoy their time together. She also ensures that the kids have their breakfast in time and eat lunch. She gets them all served and at the end of the day she ensures that all the children are prepared to be taken back home in the evening.
Above all things, Shamim loves to support other patients who are struggling with cancer especially children. “I really love my volunteer work at Hospice in the children’s section and can’t spend a week without seeing the kids. I want to give them hope to conquer cancer and although some of them have passed on, I still belief many will survive.”