A nine year old cancer survivor who is having to battle the disease for a second time, has received a lifeline from Airtel on the latest episode of Touching Lives.
Pillar Egona, whose left leg was amputated to save her from a life-threatening tumour, had outgrown her prosthesis and needed a new one. On Airtel Touching Lives Season 3 Episode 5, the telecommunications services provider promised to pay a prosthesis surgeon to treat the little girl and recommend a new prosthesis for her in Nigeria.
While showing appreciation to her new benefactor, Egona said, with the new artificial leg, “I can be normal, I can be like everyone else.”
But not long after the programme was recorded, Egona’s cancer returned and now, Airtel has said it would redirect its assistance to her treatment.
As revealed by Egona’s mother, Mojisola, an innocuous fall triggered the tumour that would eventually cost Egona her leg.
In 2014, while the girl was running about at home, she slipped and crashed into a wall, hurting her leg. After treating the bruises with home remedies, her mother expected her to get better. But, several days afterwards, said Mojisola, Egona still limped and the bump on the leg continued to grow.
After conducting a few tests, doctors realised she had osteosarcoma and for specialist treatment, the family was advised to take the child to India. “We were able to get the cheapest rate in India at the Cancer Institute, Chennai,” said Egona’s father, Abraham.
According to a radiation therapist, Mrs Animashaun, Egona’s fall was “a lucky break for her”. The domestic accident led to an early detection, she said, and detecting cancer early often saves victims’ lives.
She noted that the incidence of cancer in Nigeria has been rising because of the increase in the consumption of processed food. Also, more people are getting themselves checked and contributing to cancer reporting in the country.
However, the cost of Egona’s therapy was beyond her family’s capacity. “I had to go public to ask people to help my daughter,” her father said. For the operation and journey to Chennai, the parents raised N18m. “You can imagine the pain, having to beg people. Sometimes you’re abused and people will call you names.”
But, despite weeks of chemotherapy, the cancer continued to spread. Eventually, doctors recommended an amputation.
It wasn’t easy seeing her lying on the bed,” said Mojisola. “But I was able to go through the period because I believed in God, and with God all things are possible. Also, I knew Pillar was looking up to the dad and me for support so I couldn’t afford to break down. When it was time for amputation I just had to call her and let her know why we had to go for it, and she understood.”
After the donation was announced, the Egona family thanked Airtel for saving their child again. “I’ll be able to play, run, do sports, and I’ll be able to climb the stairs as well,” Pillar Egona said.
Airtel Touching Lives will return this Saturday on television networks across Africa, the telecom company has said.
Hosted by Wana Udobang, the philanthropic programme, episode six of season three will premiere on Africa Magic Urban at 6:30pm and on Africa Magic Family at 7pm. The same instalment will be broadcast from 9-9:30pm on RaveTV.
The following day, Africa Magic World will air a rerun from 6-6:30pm, followed by NTA Network from 6:00pm, and ArewaTV from 7pm.