Finding Strength in the Diagnosis: Keziah's Inspiring Story
December 04, 2023
Keziah Ouko had just celebrated her 49th birthday. It was a milestone that was supposed to mark the beginning of a new chapter in her life. However, little did she know that the day would also mark the start of a challenging journey she never anticipated.
In the late afternoon of Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, Keziah was alone at home and working when she received an email notification regarding test results from some recent bloodwork. Nervously, she logged into her MyChart account and was quickly overwhelmed by the different medical terms she saw. There was one word that stood out: "positive." She immediately called the lab, but the pathologist was unavailable. She got a similar response when she contacted her gynecologist's office. Both offices promised to get back to her the following Monday, Oct. 3, which was also Keziah's birthday.
Unable to wait, Keziah shared her results with a friend who was a research scientist. Her friend confirmed that she had tested positive for breast cancer. The information left her overwhelmed, devastated and crushed by circumstances beyond her control. The following Monday, she received return phone calls from both the pathologist and gynecologist who confirmed her fears. Indeed, it was a sad birthday for Keziah. Additional tests confirmed that Keziah had Stage 3 breast cancer.
"The journey from diagnosis to treatment can be frightening and confusing, but it's in these challenging moments that we discover our inner strength. I am fortunate to have had an incredible oncologist team at the Legacy Cancer Institute that provided me with all the necessary resources and unwavering support."
The oncology team has always been available to listen to Keziah’s fears and answer her questions. It was their dedication and compassion that helped Keziah navigate this challenging journey. But it wasn't just her medical team that stood by her. Keziah's family, friends and church also rallied around her and offered unwavering support. Their presence was a source of strength during the darkest days.
Keziah learned that starting the conversation about her diagnosis was one of the most challenging aspects of her journey. "The pity and sadness that others feel for me can make the situation feel like an endpoint," says Keziah. But no matter what others felt, Keziah carried on and learned to put herself first.
She has realized that everyone's path is unique and draws strength from maintaining a positive outlook. She has consciously avoided anything that might drain her and instead focuses on her well-being and healing. "I've had difficult days and experienced significant changes in my body, but I've learned to listen to my body and acknowledge my feelings. I've also learned to say ‘no’ when I couldn't meet a request, understanding that self-care is essential when dealing with a diagnosis like mine," says Keziah.
Although Keziah's faith has been tested throughout her journey, she’s found solace in believing that God will provide possibilities amid seemingly hopeless odds. She is grateful for the strength she has found in her faith.
One of the most touching aspects of Keziah's journey has been the compassion and care she’s received from her medical team at the Legacy Cancer Institute. "Having a dependable nurse navigator to help guide me through the complexities of the health care system has been a blessing,” says Keziah. “The availability of various medical teams, including surgeons, radiologists and gynecologists, technicians has been instrumental in my treatment."
The team's transparency and detailed explanations of her treatment plans and options have empowered Keziah to make informed decisions. Timely responses to her inquiries, whether through phone calls or the online MyChart platform, has helped give her peace of mind throughout her treatment. Her medical team's compassionate and caring nature has provided much needed emotional support. Some of them have even shared their own personal journeys, helping Keziah feel less alone in her battle. They've been her biggest cheerleaders and have encouraged her to maintain a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition and exercise.
"I am incredibly thankful for the holistic support from my medical team at the Legacy Cancer Institute,” says Keziah. “Their unwavering commitment to my well-being has been the driving force behind my perseverance."
Keziah now wants others to know the importance of understanding the extent of their medical coverage and the additional resources available to them, especially those offered by an employer. Although her journey has been filled with challenges, it has also been defined by support, compassion and resilience. She has remained an inspiring example of how strength, faith and a dedicated medical team can help people overcome the most challenging obstacles.