Albert Kokota – Family – where love never ends
Having solid family support when diagnosed with cancer goes a long way. We hear how Albert Kokota’s family supported him when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
Albert Kokota (57) lives in Rustenburg, North West Province with his wife, Naomi. They have three children and two grandchildren.
At the beginning of last year, Albert experienced swelling in his right ankle and pain between his ribs. He went to his GP who noticed that he was pale and decided to do a blood test.
In the meantime, the GP prescribed an anti-inflammatory. With the results of the blood test showing low haemoglobin levels; the GP referred him to a hospital for further investigations.
Due to Albert’s medical aid plan, he was referred to a hospital in Olivedale as that hospital is a designated service provider to his scheme. Albert wasn’t bothered by the two-hour drive to Gauteng as all the medical costs were covered by his medical aid. His wife and two daughters drove with him and then went back to Rustenburg.
At the hospital, Albert had more blood tests done and a bone marrow biopsy and was kept overnight. “The bone marrow biopsy was very painful,” Albert adds. The bone marrow biopsy result was available the following day and revealed that Albert had multiple myeloma. “I was shocked, but the doctor immediately explained that it’s treatable, so this alleviated my anxiety,” Albert says.
Albert decided to only tell his family once they got back home from the drive. Noami says, “I was very afraid when I heard the news, but once Albert explained what the doctor had told him, I accepted it.”
Albert was referred to a haematologist at the same hospital in Olivedale. There he was prescribed lenalidomide, a targeted therapy (oral tablets) that stops the growth of myeloma cells in the bone marrow.
He took them daily for two weeks but due to a reaction of Steven Johnson syndrome (a rare, serious disorder of the skin and mucous membranes), they were stopped.
As an alternative, Albert was put on chemotherapy once a week from February to September. However it was later discovered that Steven Johnson syndrome was in fact caused by the anti-inflammatory that was prescribed for his ankle.
Due to this, Albert started taken lenalidomide again in January. “The doctor explained that this is now maintenance therapy as the bone marrow test and blood tests done in October showed that the cancer was gone.”
Travel and chemotherapy
Thankfully Albert got time off work to get chemotherapy, but he was also working from home due to COVID which he says helped. “The HR manager would visit me often to see how I was doing,” Albert says.
Even though, it was a full day of driving to Gauteng, getting chemotherapy and driving back to Rustenburg, Albert says it didn’t become tiresome as he had the support of his family. “Either my wife and two daughters would drive with me, or my older son would go with me.”
Naomi adds, “I didn’t think about how far it was, I just wanted him to be okay, so the drive was part of him getting treatment and getting better. On those drives, we would talk, and this was a way that I could show my support.”
Albert’s daughters add, “Our father is an extremely supportive father, so we wanted to give him the support that he always gives us and that is why we travelled with.”
The side effects Albert experienced was loss of hair, vomiting, a sore throat and oral thrush. However, Steven Johnson syndrome caused severe sores on Albert’s lips. He was precribed an ointment to put on his lips. It took a month to clear up but unfortunately the pigmentation in Albert’s lips has disappeared and the doctor has informed him that it’s unlikely to come back.
Naomi admits that seeing her husband vomiting and so sick was upsetting to her, however she didn’t show him that it upset her.
Naomi and her children would often buy gifts at the hospital for Albert while he was getting chemotherapy. “We also prayed a lot for him and told him that he needs to be strong as we all need him.”
Albert’s daughters would help with the cooking, making their father his favourite meal. “We also took him his medication and would watch soccer or the TV shows he liked with him, as we know that was something he enjoyed.”
The 57-year-old is grateful to his family for all the support they are giving him. “Being the man of the house, it was a worry that I was sick. But I have a will and have worked hard for them so they will be taken care of if I wasn’t here.”
But thankfully, Albert is feeling strong in his health, is back at work full time and still around to love and take care of his family.
MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams
Laurelle is the Editor at Word for Word Media and graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She have a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Write me: firstname.lastname@example.org