Having had a previous masectomy on one breast did not stop Nakigudde from breastfeeding John Paul. “I had a lot of breast milk and I was able to breastfeed exclusively for six months. I would even express the milk and leave it behind for John Paul while I went to work,” says Nakigudde.
After delivery, Nakigudde kept in touch with her doctors. She regularly goes for routine check-up at the cancer clinic. In addition, she checks her lymph nodes often and does a self-breast exam to check for lumps in the remaining breast.
Nakigudde’s battle with breast cancer started in July 2001 with a small lump in her right breast. She felt the lump accidentally as she lay on her bed.
After she confided in a friend, she was advised to ignore it since it was not painful. Eight months later, Nakigudde noticed that the lump had grown bigger but did not think much of it.
One day while she sat at her office desk, she felt a sharp pain cut through her breast but did not relate it to breast cancer. After a week, Nakigudde went to Mulago Hospital and was referred to a surgeon, but went to Case Clinic since she had medical insurance. She had minor surgery to remove the lump. In the mean time the doctor also retained a biopsy to help do further cancer investigations.
A week later, when Nakigudde returned to the clinic to have her wound dressed, the doctor revealed to her that she had aggressive breast cancer.
Though heart broken, Nakigudde was determined to fight for her life. She went to Mulago Hospital and had a masectomy.
A month later, Nakigudde was referred to the Cancer Institute, Mulago for chemotherapy. A lot of tests that included the heart, lungs, liver and womb were done before administering chemotherapy. Though the tests turned out negative, the doctors insisted that Nakigudde take a six-cycle of chemotherapy since the cancer was aggressive. The chemotherapy lasted six months and was spaced in three-month intervals.
“Chemotherapy is such a nightmare, I would feel tired even first thing in the morning, and I would vomit whenever it was administered. I lost my hair and even turned dark,” narrates Nakigudde.