Usanase learned that she had cervical cancer in 2017, a disease that continues to claim the lives of many people in Rwanda and around the world.
Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) reported that only last year, there were 362 new cervical cancer patients.
This cancer tops the list of diseases that claim the biggest number of lives in Rwanda but when it is diagnosed earlier, it can be cured as Usanase testifies.
Usanase shared her story at an event that brought together the Ministry of Health, UNITAID, Clinton Health Access Initiative and that aimed at identifying solutions to prevent and eradicate cervical cancer on Tuesday 3rd December 2019.
The event also brought together First Ladies of Rwanda, Niger, Tchad, Botswana, and Niger and was part of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) that started on December 2nd in Kigali.
Usanase recounted her journey during her sickness and the treatments she received.
“I was diagnosed in 2017 and since I am in menopause already, I could not explain why I was bleeding. I immediately went to the dispensary and they transferred me to CHUK. They tested me and diagnosed me with cervical cancer but I refused to believe it since I felt well besides the bleeding.”
They explained the diagnosis to her daughter who had accompanied her at the hospital.
She says that CHUK then transferred her to Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence located in Northern Rwanda where the disease was cured through a chemotherapy regimen.
“Two weeks after the diagnosis, I was told I was at stage 2 cervical cancer meaning it had grown beyond the cervix and uterus but had not yet reached the walls of the pelvis or the lower part of the vagina. I could be cured with the appropriate treatment.”
Usanase advises women and especially mothers to test regularly because the symptoms can be dealt with when identified at an earlier stage.
“There are qualified specialists who can treat cervical cancer but women need to make it their responsibility to test frequently.”
Statistics show that in Rwanda, 1304 women have been diagnosed with Cervical cancer and 921 died from it.
Currently, 93% of girls and women aged 12 years and above have been vaccinated for cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer appears at the second place of diseases that affect women the most in Africa and at the first place of fatal diseases in Rwanda. Cervical cancer is by 99.7% caused by the Human Papillomavirus (HPV).