The Genevieve Pink Ball is approaching fast! The event will hold on the 23rd of May 2009. We know so many fashionistas are scrambling to find the most amazing pink dress but you and I know the event is much deeper than that!
Its about the fight to raise awareness on breast cancer. The fight to give our women access to diagnostic and treatment facilities. The fight to save lives.
Sola Adeoti’s story from Genevieve Magazine is remarkable. I cannot count the amount of times that I have read it but it never fails to inspire. It is not a story. It is a testimony.
Worth the read.
For more on the Genevieve Pink Ball – See the BN Genevieve Pink Ball page for all our Pink Ball related updates and inspiring testimonies – Click HERE
By Joy Isi Bewaji
Like gold, Sola Adeoti has gone through some grueling rebirth. Now, all you see is a woman who is up to speed on the journey ahead… More than ever, this survivor now understands why it is often said that ‘life is a university’, and she is no less a first-class graduate! Hers is a story of triumph over the trials of a chequered banking career, the trauma of nursing an only son back to health, as well as her own battle and survival from Breast cancer… Now, here’s a story worth telling!
“My spiritual anxiety”
Life played an ironic twist on Sola when she took her oldest daughter who was then 18 to the clinic for a check-up. She felt it was time to expound on some ‘feminine issues’ to the teenager; and since the young lady had never done any previous medical check, the doctor needed Sola as a case to enlighten her daughter on the expectations of what being tested for breast cancer was all about. “I could see my daughter cringe as she watched the doctor carry out the usual check for lump on my breasts. There were so many unanswered questions from her expressions…” Afterwards, the doctor asked a lot of what Sola thought were routine questions. “He wanted to know if I was having headaches, dizzy spells… ‘No’ I said; and he then insisted on further check-up on a later date.”
Before then, Sola had constantly been nagged by her spirit to go see her doctor, but there were many issues she was dealing with, one of which was the ‘consolidation matter’ that was in full view at the time. This spiritual prompting was ignored due to her busy schedule, but the nagging didn’t stop, her inner-man seemed to have turned into an anxious wife! And by the time she eventually listened to her heart and did its bidding, the hostile realities had begun to play themselves out…
“After two weeks, you are on your own”
On my next appointment, it snowed heavily and it was a good excuse to arrive late. I had been a bit blasé about the whole process because I was certain I was in perfect health. So when I got there and was told there was no doctor available, I felt relieved and headed for the exit door. It was New Year’s Eve and everyone was in a merry hurry to get away from work mode. As I made to leave, one of the doctors who apparently had left her keys behind walked in and decided to attend to me.
She did a quick scan but I didn’t miss the disturbed look on her face. I couldn’t make anything of it especially as she tried to act like everything was fine. “There’s nothing to worry about,” she had answered hastily as I posed the question, “Is everything okay?” Instinctively, I could tell she was being diplomatic. At the end of it all she wished me a wonderful New Year and advised I got a lot of rest. I couldn’t imagine what could go wrong! Not in a million years would I have thought I’d have to go through an excruciating experience with cancer.
But I did. I remember seeing my breasts on the X-ray film after another appointment with Professor Bam, an extremely well qualified doctor who was the head of the Medical Board of Association that pioneered the treatment called, The Blue Print for Treatment of Breast Cancer. He pointed out some dots, which he referred to as cancer cells. He told me they had spread through my breasts and I would have to do something urgently. “I can only give you two weeks,” he had said, “after that you are on your own.”
“Like tiny drops of poison”
Cancer! The word tore me apart. I was to see an oncologist about a mastectomy and chemo. The thought of it was like little drops of poison into my system. I walked out of the hospital feeling so alone. It was time to call my husband. “They say your wife has cancer…” I said very quietly the minute he answered the phone, I tried as much as I could to dissociate myself from the quandary. It seemed so unreal to be associated with something as deadly as cancer.
My husband immediately sent word to my family and to the brethren at the Redeemed Christian Church of God. He told the general overseer- Pastor E.O Adeboye (whom we fondly call ‘Daddy’) about the diagnosis. All I wanted was for him to pray for me, so I could be healed, but it seemed I had to go through the whole nine yards experience. God wanted to teach me something, and I had to be primed to learn.
“My encounter with Red Devil”
I was devastated when I was told I would need to have a mastectomy even though under the circumstance there was no other choice. I went ahead with the surgery and two weeks later I had my first chemotherapy. I was given steroids to prepare me for it, but sincerely nothing prepares you for the kind of pain that shoots through the system causing such unbearable agony. The Chemo was ‘retrobisin’ which literally translates to ‘Red Devil’. I felt the excruciating pain run through my fingers as if they were set on fire; it was hellish! The sting ran through to my toes, and then to my brain, then I just lost it! I was unconscious for three hours before I was revived. And that was just the beginning…
“A journey to hell, and back”
I had six rounds of chemo in a period of six months. It was so very traumatic. I died a million deaths. I had my weight checked before every chemo process. My body was not prepared for that kind of ordeal. It was a whole load of agony; a very rude shock for my system. There was a lot of poking and throbbing, my veins kept collapsing at will. My chemo started in January and completed in June. It was supposed to be for every six weeks but I missed my sessions because my body couldn’t tolerate any more of it… chemo affects everything in your system especially the blood cells. I almost lost my mind.
It is ironical that the chemotherapy that is supposed to save your life is the very treatment that almost kills you. I couldn’t understand any of this; I was as healthy as I should be before all this began to happen. I had a regulated lifestyle; and even though as a Managing Director of a bank and a pastor in church with all the demand on my time I made good attempts at keeping a healthy lifestyle. It was a shock to realize I could fall so ill…
Chemotherapy takes you from a point of anguish unto death! My body burned…the heat that passes through the system is like unbearable sting from hot coal. I could neither eat nor sleep; I was always nauseous, and the one way I could try to get the poison out of my system was to just keep rolling on the floor. It was like warfare inside of me – the pain would start from my brain right down to my feet and then back to my brain! At that point, nothing gives comfort; the cells are being destroyed- it is a battle for life; a death process that kills you then brings you back to life…
I did a lot of soul-searching at this period. I asked God, ‘why me?’ My head was in turmoil and my heart bled; I needed to know what the outcome of this gruesome affliction would be. I heard God. He told me, ‘it is not unto death’, so I knew it would not take my life and that was a bit comforting, but I wasn’t aware of the physical, financial, emotional, and psychological torment that would follow. I knew there was a testimony here but for a long time I questioned Him.
“Signs of death loomed”
My ordeal wasn’t quite over because usually with chemotherapy the cells decrease, but not so in my case as I was told that instead of the cells decreasing and dying, the reverse was the case. The treatment was fueling the cells! This was tragic and death seemed so certain. My Oncologist told me the implication; and by the time I did my sixth chemo, I was told there was nothing that could be done anymore; my body could no longer tolerate any more sessions. The cells had increased by 100 percent. They told me they didn’t think I could survive any more chemo and there was no alternative treatment! So, I prayed, regained my strength and went back for more chemo. By then my thyroid gland had been thoroughly damaged and I just lost weight and became very skinny. At that point there was nothing the doctors could do, so I was discharged. I knew they had given up on me, but all I could ask for was a miracle. ‘God help me,’ I prayed over and over again. And the help came through Pastor Adeboye; my Daddy in the Lord to whom my husband ran for help saying, I had been sent home to die. The next day, Daddy came over to the UK, laid his hands upon me and prayed the cancer out of its roots. Two days later I went to see my Oncologist and she confirmed that there were no more traces of cancer cells inside of me. She was astonished; she’d never had such a case before, she said. My response to her was “I serve a strange God!”
“No boundaries for cancer”
Before cancer I lived a very healthy life. I visited the gym, my personal trainer was always there waiting. I exercised, at least, four times a week. I fasted a lot, and that made me follow a good diet routine. I ate healthily, I took a lot of fruits and vegetables. I had a nurse who took care of me. I went through physical therapy with massage oils – good for the body, steam bath and other healthy trips. I had strong wellness awareness and I stuck to it. As a health-conscious woman with children, I didn’t think I was the typical cancer patient.
The truth was the cancer I had was peculiar, it came as tiny dots instead of a lump and it could not be felt during self-examination. Although the mammography machine can detect it, it is still a tricky kind of cancer. Indeed, cancer has broken its boundaries. I heard of a 22 year-old girl who had never been married who died of cancer just two months after she was diagnosed with cancer and even men are not excluded. As long as the breasts have tissues, then cancer is a possibility.
It used to be said that people who lived in villages couldn’t be affected because of their unfussy lifestyle. We also believed that cancer was hereditary; or could only affect those with poor diet… but cancer has changed from all that. Everybody and anybody is at risk. It’s no longer for people in their 40s; now I’d advise anyone from 18 years of age to go for a mammogram check-up. As you grow older you must develop the habit of visiting your doctor regularly for check-up.
“Life after chemo”
After chemo, I tried to live a normal life. I carried on with my work as a pastor in church, meeting the needs of others. I knew I couldn’t allow my pain to pull me down. I didn’t want to give my ordeal so much power over my life; the aftermath could be deadlier, so I chose to take each joyful day as it came.
My husband and I went through a lot. We went through a process where we had nothing financially, because we had spent it all on my treatment. Everything we had- thousands of pounds in three figures, was gone. And I still had to go to the US for further care.
At a distressing time as that, I yearned to be held and loved because there was so much pain going on. I was pale and sickly; chemo had dried me up and I had lost so much weight… all I could do was hold on to the love and support of my family and the church.
“In the face of a lie”
I came back to Nigeria after chemo to debunk the lies about (me) running away with the bank’s money. There were rumours making the rounds that my husband and I had embezzled a total of N380million. They went further to say that the entire PR executed by the bank was reversed into my personal account. Members of staff were forced to lie against me, so by the time I came into the country, I fell right into the hands of EFCC. It was such a big mess.
I had to come back to account for this by writing to the EFCC and CBN. Through all of my pain, I was locked up by the EFCC. So many things were happening all at once- I thought of my frail health, I thought of my kids… I was so worried.
“My marriage suffered under the pressure…”
I was not particularly worried about my marriage until I came back to Nigeria and I learnt my husband had been put through EFCC’s hassle. They put a lot of pressure on him because I wasn’t in the country at that time. In fact the CBN claimed I absconded, even though they knew what predicament I was facing at the time. It suited them to believe a lie instead. My husband took the brunt and that had its toll on our marriage.
It was the wicked lies that affected my marriage, not the cancer. The trauma the family was put through was unbearable and very challenging.
“At a time of desperate need”
At a point in time, my family and I found ourselves in a quandary of financial difficulty. It was sad and very painful. It was tough. I couldn’t pay my bills, but God raised people to come to my aid. I may have been born into wealth and affluence, but I paved my own path. I have always been independent. I am the only child of my late mother, and I wasn’t dependent on my father. It was difficult for me to ask for help from my family, but God raised an army to meet my needs.
“The miracle of my twins”
I have five children, but the birth of my third child was very traumatic. Like the others, I had her through Cesarean section; I had injuries – something called adhesions. While I was pregnant the doctors discovered I had ovarian cyst. The solution was to undergo an operation but when they opened me up the doctors couldn’t find any cyst. What they found was that the kelloids caused by the adhesion had tied up and shrunk my womb. They tried as much as possible to remove the adhesions but the doctor confessed it would take a miracle for me to have another baby, because my womb was as good as gone…and a miracle it took.
I wanted to have a boy, and I believed I would. Eventually I conceived, despite the doctor’s report, and I gave birth to twins- a girl and a boy! In truth, I was pregnant with triplets but a few months into my pregnancy I was rushed to the hospital because one of the foetus was dying and threatening the others. The only option I had was to remove the dying foetus so as not to harm the others. There was 80 percent chance that I would lose the pregnancy but I refused to take the foetus out. I couldn’t bear to lose my kids. Although I bled all through from my third month of pregnancy till delivery date, I still had my twins! I believe I lost the third one during the bleeding process.
“I didn’t switch kids…God healed my boy!”
After delivery I was told my baby boy twin- Solomon wouldn’t survive beyond age four. He was diagnosed with cancer of the brain and they couldn’t guarantee that even if they drilled his skull they could carve out the part of his brain that had cancer. It started as a little boil on his head, then it became bigger and grew uncontrollably over his skull. It wasn’t a good sight. We couldn’t get the doctors here to tell us what it was so we had to go to England. This cancer, they say, only occurs in 2 percent of children in the world and none had ever survived it. I took the child back to Nigeria to Daddy Adeboye, and he prayed. Two months later my son was healed. I took him back for medical check- up and they thought I had switched kids. They had to go through medical reports to be certain he was the same kid and not his twin.
“Growing up was beautiful”
My growing up was beautiful although painful too. Everybody knows what a polygamous setting is like – rancour and suspicions! My mum died when I was six, the only memory I have of her is of her striking beauty. Oh, my mother was a beautiful woman- physically, mentally and spiritually. She was a very kind person, and very fashionable. I remember how she used to straighten my hair and dress me up like a little doll. She was from a very affluent Lagos family- the Adamsons’. Her name was Abiola. After her death, I stayed under my father’s tutelage. He was a hands-on man; very particular about prayers and morning chores. He was interested in our education and never compromised on discipline.
I look back, and I think growing up in that setting was beautiful; everything was just wonderful.
I have learnt to embrace the beautiful things of life. My life and my experiences I owe to God and all the people that have contributed one way or the other, whether for good or for bad. I believe God permitted some things to come my way because I needed to go through a process, which would ultimately make me a better person.
“I am gratified”
And you know what? I thank God today that I went through all that I did. My experiences have made me a more beautiful person- physically, mentally, and spiritually. It was my experience with cancer that made me rediscover myself. I have always wanted to be a lecturer. After cancer I thought I’d embrace that opportunity. It was something that came to me while I was waiting for my last check-up in the US. I just thought to myself, ‘why don’t I just go and start my PHD?’ So now I am back to school hoping to eventually become a lecturer.
“I am willing to give back”
I was inspired to start an NGO in 2007; it was registered in the US. It is called Maria Sam; Maria is my mum’s name, and Samuel Adedoyin is my father’s, so I took the two names to honour the two of them. I have been a pastor way before my cancer experience, and I believe that with what I have gone through it is God’s decision to use me as a vessel. He gave me a scripture, Jeremiah 30:17, which says, ‘I will restore health unto you and I will heal you of all your diseases.’ I want anyone who may be going through any kind of affliction to hold on to this scripture, because when I couldn’t pray, when I couldn’t read the Bible, this was one scripture that I held on to. I always say to myself, ‘This is your promise Lord, and you have to let it come to pass.’ And he did.
I know my experiences aren’t just for fun, everything that happens is for a purpose. I have been called to contribute my own quota to humanity. I am willing to give back; and the only way I can give back is to use the rest of my life to testify to the goodness of God. God’s goodness rests on all of us. He does not discriminate and does not expect us to. He brought people from various religion to support me during my trial; and that was very humbling.
Our duty is to love one another. Love is the ultimate panacea in a world full of diseases, pain and poverty.
The brethren showed me amazing love; people who had never met me but had heard of my condition prayed for me; many went out of their way to be of great support- financially and spiritually, I shall forever be indebted to their love.
My experiences have made me stronger; I have rediscovered myself, rediscovered my God, and rediscovered my loved ones; but most of all it has taught me that the greatest gift of all forever remains Love.