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August 18, 2018

How I was diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency instead of cancer - Collymore

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore before the Communication, Information and Innovation Committee of Parliament, regarding legislative and regulatory gaps affecting competition in the tele-communication sub sector, August 6, 2018. /JACK OWUOR
Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore before the Communication, Information and Innovation Committee of Parliament, regarding legislative and regulatory gaps affecting competition in the tele-communication sub sector, August 6, 2018. /JACK OWUOR

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, who just returned from treatment abroad, had been feeling unwell for some time and was misdiagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency.

Collymore revealed this during an interview on Citizen TV on Wednesday night, at which he narrated how he fell ill last October and how it took long for doctors to realise he was suffering from a serious condition.

"I use to get tired and have high temperatures from time to time. It got so bad that I could not make it to company events," he said. He further noted that the high temperatures would sometimes last for 24 hours.

"During a visit to Morocco, I started experiencing flu-like symptoms. I noticed a pain in the bones of my chin and that my body would start shaking. I thought to myself that 'it’s not something you experience unless you kick something really hard'."

After that, Collymore said, he called his wife who thought the symptoms were for malaria.

"My wife Wambui is really good in self diagnosis. She thought I had malaria. I also went to a doctor in Nairobi who said I had a vitamin D deficiency," he said. "I returned to Nairobi for check-ups and was given supplements."

Dissatisfied with the diagnosis, Collymore sought a second opinion from another doctor at Nairobi Hospital.

"He did about 30 blood tests but said he could not find the problem. He needed to do more tests which meant I had to be admitted. It was the first time I was admitted at the hospital," he said.

The doctor suspected a blood issue but referred the CEO to a specialist in the UK since he is not an expert on the subject.

"I left that very night to London and it was there that a haematologist diagnosed me with acute myeloid leukemia - a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and is curable," he said. 

"I was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors told me at the time that I had probably had it for about six months. He said I was fine but noted that the treatment would he harsh and would take six to nine months.

"Being diagnosed with cancer was not a big deal. I thought this was going to be tough I called my team and told them to put systems in place for when I would be away," he said.

After returning, Collymore faced MPs on Monday and discussed Safaricom's position on proposals by the Communication Authority of Kenya, where ts competitors are concerned.

Details: Invest to ease unfair burden on Safaricom, Collymore tells competitors

Also read: Collymore returns from sick leave to Safaricom SIM swap storm

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