This exclusive encounter with Sammie Ayoka Peters,wife of Afrojuju Music founder, Sir Shina Peters is deeply emotional. The beautiful woman wept. She wept for Africa and her children. She is unhappy that Political elites take more pleasure in acquiring wealth than solving societal problems. It is the real story of her near death experience with cancer; her raw experience with a reluctant system that attached so much emotion to her healthcare policy, USA.
Sammie saw death but conquered death through the grace of Christ Jesus her Lord. She found a whole lot which she shared with Asabeafrika in this concluding part of the story of her 18 months ordeal with cancer. The beautiful and kind hearted educationist equally shared the unimaginable role her musician husband, Sir Shina Peters played in her life and why leading Nigerian Telecommunications firm, MTN made a difference. Enjoy the excerpts
If you have the opportunity to educate 1500 cancer victims in a ball room, what are you going to be telling them as a survivor?
Let me say this, I pray something like this will not happen to anybody but do you know what, today as I am sitting and talking to you, someone somewhere has just been diagnosed of cancer. But if we must use my own experience as a case study, it is good. What kills most Nigerian Women who fall victims of breast cancer is not really the cancer, it is the approach to it. Some will say ‘Oh, I can’t cut off my breast”. Some will say “I don’t even want to touch anything about my breast” well and good. But as God said in the Bible, ‘If it is one eye that will cost you not to see the kingdom of heaven, remove it”, so, if you are diagnosed, don’t go to an ordinary doctor, visit an oncologist. I don’t know if we have professional oncologists here in Nigeria but they have oncologist abroad who deal mainly in the treatment of cancer patients. If you are asked to remove the breast, then, remove it so that the remaining body will be okay. It is either you lose your whole self or you just lose the breast and the breast is replaceable. Abroad, if they cut your breast they give you a new breast. Secondly, another thing we do in Nigeria is to say “Eyan kan nse mi” (Someone is spiritually attacking me) or it is a spiritual attack, you can believe whatever you want to believe, if you think somebody is attacking you spiritually fine, but please, just make sure you go to the hospital and do the right thing. If you need Kimo, quickly take it. If you need to do surgery, do it, if you need to do radiation, do it. Another very important thing again is for women to make sure they do their yearly screening which is mammogram. It is very, very important because that is the only way to be safe if it has not spread. If it has spread, there is nothing anybody can do about it.
It could be said that you survived your cancer experience because your husband is privileged and you are equally affluent, but what of ordinary Nigerians with no finance and nobody to give the huge funds, if you are to meet President Buhari today what will be your suggestion to government on how to help cancer victims solve their problem?
(Sammie burst into tears at this junction and had to excuse us as the question touched her heart. She later returned to the interview session and continued) this question brings sadness to me (Sobs), in Africa, we are orphans. That is the sad truth, we are orphans, we have no parents to carter for us and it is sad, really, really sad, because we have rich people here, we have rich people, for us not to have a good cancer center is sad. Terribly sad, it is horribly sad (Stood up as water stream down her cheeks, returned after getting her emotional balance). The situation is heartbreaking. In America where I took my treatment, the poor ones are the ones enjoying the government. Do you believe that? In America, if you are poor and you don’t have money, you will go to the hospital thatPresident Obama uses and they will give you a free treatment.
So, I don’t get it, you mentioned President Buhari, it is not just a Nigerian thing, it is an African thing. Our politicians travel, they see things and they know what is taking place in other climes, they travel a lot (Wiping her tears intermittently) some even school abroad….it is sad. You get my point. That is why I am praying to God to help me because I am starting a foundation where we can raise money to alleviate the challenges of cancer through awareness. There are some cancer survivors who are not coming out, they should come out and let’s do something together. Let the government hear our voice because it is not only about me. Let’s talk to government and see how we can help save the cost of making survivors earn their days again.
“He has been a wonderful partner and lover in the entire journey and he didn’t blink during my trying period. My husband is just too much. He is a musician, he flirts, he enjoys his life but he is wonderful. He is pretty wonderful, believe me, he is an honest man”.
What was the cost of getting your cure in the USA?
When I got to America my husband raised an apartment for me where we paid a thousand five hundred dollars–$1,500 (Per Month). It is an all-inclusive rent which comes with fees for cable, telephone and other services. He bought a car for me to move around. Because I was using a car in Nigeria, he really tried; I can’t begin to talk about my husband. But let’s talk about this government intervention thing, I am just appealing, I am begging, I am on my kneel, this cancer thing has become an epidemic; across the world you keep hearing people who died of cancer but those government in the civilized countries are creating subsidized health platform to aide citizen’s well being. Our politicians should know it could be any of them, but because they think they can always run toAmerica orLondon or somewhere like Dieziani (Former Nigerian Oil Minister) did, she ran to London, can everybody run to London or America? So, if you are struck with cancer, you just take your death certificate and die? I don’t know what government thinks of its role and responsibility. If you don’t help people to survive this disease, lot of people will die because the cost of treatment is expensive. Let me tell you, there is this drug called Nopoginthe drug cost $800 dollars per drip, if I do my Kimo (Chemotherapy) on say a Monday, the second day which is Tuesday, I have to take 5 drips. I am not talking of Kimo here, which is equally expensive. I am talking of just one drip, it is $800 per one and I have to take 5 for my various stages of Kimo(Chemotherapy) because they break the Kimo into sessions.
If I use maybe Panadol for two months or six weeks, it depends on the kind of cancer you are treating, the grade and the stage. So, this kind of illness is expensive and complex in terms of cure. I just pray you won’t find out. It is because I just had the grace to know more about it, I will take this injection for 5 consecutive days during the Kimo treatment because the essence is for the injection to help you revive your good cells. In the course of treatment, Kimo does not know the good cells from the bad cells; it kills the good cells together with the bad cells. So, this Nopogin wakes your good cells up again, it is like a revival drug which goes into your system to re-awaken your good cells. So, as an ordinary, poor Nigerian victim, if you cannot take that, what will happen? You can just have diarrhea and you die because all the good cells fighting for you is dead. And during this treatment, you are segregated. You cannot even enter public transport.
You can not begin to mix, you can not begin to share toilet with people; so many things are involved. I don’t know what to even say to government than to beg, that we should let sanity reign. When President Buhari’sgovernment came on board, me and so many Nigerians had so much high expectations, it was like the whole scenario will change suddenly and Nigeria will just transform and go into her glory. But it is not happening that way and some people are disappointed. But I strongly believe that it is the challenges he met on ground that stalled him. He is trying to recover looted funds across the world and with time, we will see what he has in stock for us. So, I am begging that government should intervene in citizen’s health matters. Not just government alone let me tell you something, actresses over there (America) who have gone through this challenge put money down for health organizations to do research. Some hospitals in America are even named after those actresses or those millionaires that have already contributed.
But your wife dies of cancer; you put your hands down, what of tomorrow, you don’t know if it is going to be your child or another family member? Why don’t you support this cause? That is the big question. Cancer is a leveler ‘Ko yo olowo ko yo otoshi”, Presidents die of cancer, governors die of cancer, even if you have the whole money in the entire universe, you might be a victim. The founder of Apple, Steve Jobs died of it, he died of blood cancer. So, our government should make it a priority to subsidize citizen’s health care on this matter. We can leave the research for the Americans if we cannot do it, at least if they are doing it, they will give us photo copy because if we say we should start doing research now, it might be pretty tasking but at least, let’s have a cancer center that government will subsidize. Can you imagine, for ordinary fever you have to go to General Hospital that is why I am crying. It is bad, Gbenga, it is sad.
“But my husband was ready to do everything, he said if it means I am going to sell this house, I will sell it; you are not going to die. He was already planning that he will sell the house to give me a good treatment. But thanks to God Almighty and thanks to MTN”.
American citizens will not go through one-quarter of what our people go through here. If you are a citizen of America, if you don’t have a house, they give you a house, so, you can jump on your bed, open your windows and just sleep. There are still thieves around but just petty ones, not the ones that will be gunning for your life here, why do you think they are so wicked like that in Nigeria? Because, believe me, a hungry man is an angry man. His parent struggled to send him to school, trained him, fed and raised him well but ten years down the line, he has no job. Which way Africa? Which way? Which way? When are we going to get there? They will even give you free transportation inAmerica; if you are an American citizen you are sick and you can’t enter public transport, Americangovernment will give you a ride. It is called“Access-a-Ride”.
And believe me, it is not only Americans they give, because I didn’t know. I taught because I was not a citizen and I pay my bills, I couldn’t enjoy it and a lady called my attention to it, she said ‘you come with taxi all the time, your husband is rich ooo’ since I cant enter public transport, my husband bought me a car and got me a Nigerian cab driver that brings me to the hospital but when I am shopping around, I drive my car. But if I am going to the hospital the cab-driver drives me down. And she said ‘no, you can apply for it, go and meet the social worker. There is a social worker in every hospital. Ask all Nigerians, you will get there, if it is something that you need to pay then you pay because you are not their citizen. But if it is some other things like you don’t have transport money, they don’t need anything, just go there; they will give you a card, metro card. When are we going to get there? How many years are we going to get there? It is sadDan Asabe. Nigerians are selfish, all we think about is to buy jets, to buy G-Wagon and build houses in Lekki and buy real estates in Dubai that is not what is called richness. You are not rich by doing that, you are just poor. The only way you can call yourself a millionaire or a rich person is by touching lives. Let us learn how to touch souls, let us learn how to carter for our fellow human beings. Let us take care of our humanity. If I should keep talking about the neglect of political leadership to the desiring needs of ordinary people in Africa and Nigeria, we won’t leave here today.
Your husband, Sir Shina Peters played a very prominent role in making you feel comforted. In fact at a time he even went emotional when he told the whole world to raise a prayer for his darling wife. This kind of love and affection don’t come cheap at all? How does it make you feel as a woman?
As I already told you Dan, my husband is a very wonderful man, he is a wonderful man; he stood by me Gidigba; he was there. He rented an apartment for me in America; he bought me a car, I can’t just start reeling out some of the innumerable things he did for me during my challenging moments. And whenever I looked into his face and I say ‘I thank you so much, Olowo Ori mi, o seun, thank you, I appreciate. May God bless you” he will always say “Ayo mi, Olorun fe koo mo bi Ife ti mo ni fun e se to ni” (God want to let you know how profound my love for you is). God want to let you know how much I love you; that is why this thing happened. When they were about doing the surgery for me on my bed and I was feeling bad, I said ‘when you come now and see that they have cut this thing, (Breast) I don’t know how you will feel’ he said ‘But I will be there when they will cut it; so, it doesn’t matter’. He said ‘Love surpasses all those kind of things; I am not even seeing anything. I am only seeing you and I am glad and happy you are alive’. In fact, that gave me strength, he was there. When we picked the day for the surgery he flew down, he was right beside me. I said to him ‘touch this thing very well ooo because by tomorrow it won’t be there again’ and he started laughing. And it was done and we won. People said I was hospitalized and all that, no. I was only hospitalized once because I found it early. So, I was hospitalized during my surgery because the first thing to do was to do the whole check up again, they didn’t rely on the Nigerian result.
They carried out their own check up, they threw the Nigerian findings away and I was a bit mad with them because I feared the thing might spread but they said ‘No, we have to do our own findings, we cant collect it”; they said they cant start treating based on other people’s medical report. So, they had to conduct their own test on me, all over again. My husband was there all through. My husband is just too wonderful and I don’t think I can relay all what he did to ensure my emotional and psychological comfort. I spent like 16 months abroad, I left in August 2014. I left America in December and I came in here on the 1st of January 2016. So, I spent roughly 17 months abroad and within those 17 months he came to visit me four times, and he sent my son to me three times. The first time during my surgery he came; and my surgery was in October. After my surgery he was fully by my side until I recovered and I was on my feet, jumping everywhere, cooking and doing everything before he returned back to Nigeria. He came again in November to stay with me, then he came around April/May and he came again in August. He was always coming and then we spoke consistently, daily. Before he goes out or do anything, he will make sure he calls me everyday. He calls me like three to four times. If he is traveling and he wont be able to call, he tells me “Ayo mi” I will be travelling this Friday, I will be back on Sunday but I will talk to you on Friday before i go, maybe I wont call you on Saturday but I will call you on Sunday’ and believe, me he will be the one to wake me up. Even if I have appointment, he will be the one to wake me and say some nice things to my hearing, if you listen to my entire voice recording in the US, it is my husband’s voice that you will hear because I didn’t even give anybody my land phone. Even my children were not given my land phone. It is part of the healing process to enable me sleep and have an adequate rest. The place must be dark, everywhere must be quite and you must have your 8-9 hours bed rest and I didn’t want anyone to crash that schedule. And if I tell him, ‘wake me up by 6am, that 6am on the dot will be the time my husband will wake me up. He has been a wonderful partner and lover in the entire journey and he didn’t blink during my trying period. My husband is just too much. He is a musician, he flirts, he enjoys his life but he is wonderful. He is pretty wonderful, believe me, he is an honest man.
How are you going to take the battle from here in terms of your awareness project?
I am a bit worried because our elites don’t seem to see what I am seeing. They are not people who support things like this but I will try my best. I will advise my fellow women and enthusiasts to come in, let us create a platform for awareness. Let us go into awareness; we need to enlighten people on things to do to curb the proliferation of cancer in our society. If we can through that create a bigger platform with the aid of concerned interests in corporate Nigeria and at any other level of government, then we can talk about taking patients to a place like Indiabecause money to seek treatment in a place like India is moderate. If you even detect your cancer early, you can be saved. It can be checked on time, the most important thing is to get the treatment on time because when my own happened and I went to America, I didn’t get treatment on time, they were asking me for insurance and yet, I don’t have insurance. I am not an American but I have money, I can pay. They said ‘Sorry, you cant pay, you cannot afford it, you cant pay’ and they were doing one kind, they wont tell you out rightly that they wont treat you but the way they behave will show you that you are not welcomed.
At a point, a doctor even told me ‘Go back to Africa’. I said ‘Go back to Africa? But you know, you are well read, you know in Africa we don’t have good hospitals, I don’t even know if we have a cancer center, I can’t go back to my country because I don’t want to die. I have my money, I am repeating it, I have my money I will pay’. It was through my daughter, my daughter went there to deliver her baby and she paid. I just followed my daughter to go do her birth circumcision and that was how we saw a cancer center and my daughter was extremely happy. She said ‘They collected money from me here, they will treat you’ because at that moment I was already thinking of coming down to Nigeria and going toIndia again. It was tough, it was really, really tough before I eventually got a hospital to pay money, it was tough. But my husband was ready to do everything, he said if it means I am going to sell this house, I will sell it; you are not going to die. He was already planning that he will sell the house to give me a good treatment. But thanks to God Almighty and thanks to MTN. The MTN deal came in at the right time and after paying my hospital bill and every thing the treatment began. The money kept coming stage by stage, it was like a year plus.
I was on treatment till December 28th. I shouldn’t even be here now. But I have missed my husband, missed home, family and well-wishers. I need to come back. Then, we are still talking of going back from time to time for check up. So, is this something that will happen to someone that is poor and he or she will be able to survive it without the help of the government? We need the government to come to our rescue. Please and please help us, you must help us. You must help the ordinary people; it is not that something will happen to you as a government official and because you can afford to fly to London or America orDubai to treat yourself, and you just think every other Nigerian don’t deserve attention? Ko da bee (It is not good). No, it is totally sad. So, I will start an awareness NGO, I will just pray that we can rise and get good sponsorship; we can even donate and sponsor people for treatment. Somebody should be able to give hectares of land for awareness and remedy center, somebody should be able to say I support with a diagnostic center, we have money and we are blessed. They should just please, government at all levels, local, state, federal and private organization, please, kindly help and save humanity from the treat of cancer. It could be anyone even your daughter or your wife.
What do you have to say to Nigerians who raised prayers for Sammie Peters, lovers of Sir Shina Peters and all fans home and abroad?
On the last note, I will like to thank my God, God Almighty the healer. The Great I am that I am. Because my healing was solely by God; secondly my appreciation goes to my husband who didn’t trouble me but supported me with money, with love and everything. I pray to God to bless him and to reward him immensely. I can’t just thank him enough and I can’t thank my creator enough. Lastly, I thank all Nigerians, they tried. They prayed for me for divine recovery. I saw everything; I read on the blogs, I saw some on the pages of news papers, some on face book, twitter and several medium. I am overwhelmed. At that moment I said ‘Lord! Our people have given me love’; I didn’t know they loved me that much. May God Almighty help me bless each and every one of them for showing me love and may they never experience what I experienced, they will not experience cancer, they will not experience any challenge that will test their faith in Jesus name.