HUGE TUMOUR

Help me get my breast back, Form 1 girl pleads

Sharon's right breast has grown five times larger, and has now reached her waistline.

In Summary

•Her breasts grew normally until 2018 when she realized that her right breast was growing larger than her left breast.

•Tests showed Sharon has a tumor and the only solution is to have plastic surgery to remove it. The surgery will cost Sh300,000.

14-year-old Sharon Otieno holding her right breast, which has a tumour, at their home in Kibra on January 17.
14-year-old Sharon Otieno holding her right breast, which has a tumour, at their home in Kibra on January 17.
Image: MERCY MUMO

A 14-year-old girl, Sharon, is battling with a benign breast tumor that has made her right breast five times larger, to reach her waist line.

She lives in Kibra with her aunt Vivian Ochieng, who has other six children. 

Sharon is an orphan. She completed her primary education last year in Barkawando in Siaya and scored 229 and she is hopeful that she will join form one after treatment.

 
 
 

Her breasts grew normally until 2018 when she realized that her right breast was growing larger than her left breast.

Her grandmother decided to take her to Siaya hospital for medical checkup but the doctors said the situation was too complex for them to handle.

“After I realised I had a problem, I decided to tell my grandmother about it. She took me to Siaya Hospital. The doctors there looked at my breast and said that the situation was too complex for them to handle. The did not do any form of check up, they said that I should seek treatment in a more advanced hospital,” Sharon says.

Her grandmother did not lose hope in her after the doctor's response. She took Sharon to Kisumu at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital.

The doctors there  referred her to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital where doctors took a biopsy to see if the growth was cancerous. 

Sharon says: “The tests took three months. The tests showed that I had a tumor that was growing rapidly and the only solution was to have plastic surgery to remove it.”

 

A tumor is a mass of abnormal tissues. There are two types of breast tumors: those that are non-cancerous (benign) and those that are cancerous (malignant)

 
 
 
 

Sharon  was required to pay Sh300,000 for the surgery.

Her grandmother is unable to raise the required amount.

Her aunt, Vivian Achieng, decided to bring her to Nairobi after she cleared her class eight because she heard about Sharon's situation from family members and neighbours.

“Personally, I don't have much to offer to her but because she is my sister’s kid I have decided to take her to come and leave with me in Nairobi as I try and find a solution,” she said.

"I took her because I realised she was getting depressed because of her condition and she had no one to talk to except her grandmother.

“She is at her adolescent stage and during that stage girls tend to be sensitive on how they look. From the reports I used to get from my neighbours and family I came to a conclusion that something might be wrong,”she narrated.

Sharon says she faces a lot of stigma from some of her family members and neighbours.

“Staying at home was very difficult for me because my neighbours could gossip me and say that I was pregnant. Others would say that I have a child, that's why my breast is that big. Some of my family members saw me as an outcast because they could not understand why I had one breast larger than the other one,” she says.

Vivian says staying with Sharon has been challenging since she cannot provide for all her needs since she is a house maid.

According to Dr Alfred Murage, a consultant gynaecologist Kenyatta National Hospital, most breast tumours for women below the age of 20 years are not cancerous and can be treated.

If a lump is confirmed, further tests have to be done to make a definite diagnosis and decide if any treatment is required.

In some cases, a mammogram or a breast ultrasound scan is done to determine the stage of the tumor. However, more precise imaging with MRI may be required especially if the imaging with other modalities is inconclusive.

He say that breast tumours can be prevented by seeking early medical attention, by not smoking cigarettes, controlling your weight, limiting your dose of hormonal therapy and by breastfeeding.

He encourages all women to always seek medical attention every time they experience any abnormality on their breasts.

Vivian is appealing to well-wishers who can help Sharon to reach her through her mobile number 0726457077 or through the pay bill number 891300, account number 37628 (Vivian Achieng).

FACTS

What are the types of benign breast conditions?

If you’re a teenage girl, you might be worried about your risk of getting breast cancer.

Developing breast cancer when you’re a teenager is extremely rare. It’s also uncommon in women in their 20s and 30s. The vast majority of breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 50. Most breast tumours for teenagers are benign. Here are the different types.

Fibrocystic changes: Changes in hormone balances during normal, monthly menstrual cycles can create, for some women, symptomatic breast changes that are referred to as fibrocystic changes. Cysts often are described as benign, tiny, fluid-filled sacs that may feel like lumps. Fibrocystic changes can occur in one or both breasts and are the most common cause of benign breast lumps in women age 35 to 50. 

Simple cysts: Simple cysts are benign fluid-filled sacs that usually occur in both breasts. They can be single or multiple and can vary in size. Tenderness and lump size often change with the woman's menstrual cycle. Cysts may also be affected by caffeine (coffee, tea, chocolate, energy drinks).

Fibroadenomas: These are the most common benign solid tumors found in the female breast. They are round, rubbery, slippery lumps that move freely in the breast when pushed. They form as the result of excess formation of lobules (milk-producing glands) and stroma (connective tissue in the breast). Fibroadenomas are usually painless. They occur most often between the ages of 20 and 40 and are more common in African-American women.

Intraductal papillomas:  These are small, wart-like growths in the lining of the mammary duct near the nipple. They usually affect women 40 to 50 years of age.

Traumatic fat necrosis - This condition occurs when there is trauma (sudden injury) or surgery to the breast. This causes fat to form in lumps. The lumps are usually round, firm, hard, single, painless and in the area of a surgical scar.