‘I’ve survived cancer’: Wole Soyinka Shares His Story

‘I’ve survived cancer’: Wole Soyinka Shares His Story

By Eseme MacDonald | Associate Editor on November 26, 2014
Africa's first Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka
Africa's first Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka

Africa’s literary icon and Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, on Tuesday, November 25, 2014, shared his experience of how he was afflicted with prostrate cancer for 10 months but luckily survived the terminal disease.

He made this disclosure during a press conference at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta, flanked by his son, Dr Olaokun Soyinka, Ogun State Commissioner for Health and his younger brother, Professor Femi Soyinka and the President/Founder of the African Cancer Centre,

The event was tagged, “Beyond Ebola and beyond reign of the silent killer,” meant to demystify the scourge of cancer and enlightening people that it is curable.

The literary icon said having got cured of the disease, he decided to make his health status public so as to encourage cancer victims to go for medical treatment, according to Punch reports.

He said, “In December last year, I discovered that I had cancer, we were making sure that, that was what it was before going for other tests. And once it was established that I did have cancer and I was sure because in my family we had an uncle, at the time he died, we did not have all the sophisticated ways of knowing how he died.

“What killed him was attributed to a lot of things. From the little things I know about cancer, I came to a conclusion that he died of cancer, maybe we have it in our family.”

The icon said as a private person he would have been silent on it, but he decided to make it public being a member of the Africa Cancer Centre in order to encourage people.

“For me, it is not a decision that I am happy with, but I felt I have an obligation being a member of the Africa Cancer Centre and also having donated during the festival of fund raising for cancer, I felt I owe people an obligation to make it known and also to demystify cancer, many people feel it’s death sentence. Family, friends and colleagues begin to look at you as if you are a ghost, just because you have cancer.”

“No, cancer is not a death sentence, it is curable and I have undergone treatment and I am able to tell you that I even   have a medal to show for it,” he said.

He called on the Federal Government to treat the issue of cancer with seriousness by releasing the fund already budgeted for cancer treatment and construction of research centres in the country.

He said, “The important thing is that we have enough funds to build all the necessary cancer centres including research centres that this nation requires, though some of these centres are capital intensive.”

“One of the major reasons why I decided that I would come and make this personal appeal is that I happen to know that certain amount of money had been approved for cancer centre under the late President Umaru Yar’adua and I want to make a personal appeal that this money be released because not all of us can gallivant a round the world where we can stop over and have the necessary treatment.

“At least, we can have diagnostic centres everywhere where elementary treatment can be given to patients.”

Speaking on his experience during the cancer treatment, Soyinka said, “I have to drink a lot of water. The most painful part of it, as many of you know, is that water and I are not very good friends. I don’t enjoy drinking water.”

“To tell you the truth, I do not recollect what I felt. What a nuisance, we deal with nuisances! Whatever it takes, just look at the best way of getting rid of this unwanted squatter in our body,” he explained in reaction to the question of how he felt during the experience.


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