Florence ThwagiMy Journey with GIST

My name is Florence Thwagi, and I am 53-years-old. I am an Executive Board Member of Henzo Kenya, an advocacy group that creates awareness and support GIST patients in Kenya.

My journey started in February 2018 when after living with chronic fatigue for close to 3 years, I had an endoscopy and a big mass was found in the stomach. Surgery was scheduled immediately and it was after the surgery that I was informed I had GIST. According to the Doctor, there was nothing to worry about as the procedure was successful and so I thought I was fine and done with doctors.

A month after the surgery, the Surgeon asked me to go to an Oncologist for follow up without much explanation. My world came crumbling down! “Why an Oncologist?” I asked. At the time I had not heard of any other person with the same condition. I felt alone. I was looking for someone with my condition to talk to. Devastated and confused, I frantically searched through the internet for information and that’s how I learned about The Life Raft Group and Henzo Kenya.

The one thing I would like to achieve as a representative, is to make sure every GIST patient including the illiterate get the right information about their diagnosis so that they can own up the process of monitoring and treatment. I want to be that person who will be there for anyone wanting to talk, to encourage them and give them hope.