In a short time span, Kenya has lost two leaders – Kibra MP Ken Okoth and Bomet Governor Joyce Laboso – to cancer.
The two have joined a growing list of prominent Kenyans who have died of the disease that has no cure.
Some are also receiving treatment for various strains of the disease.
Over the seven weeks that Juja MP Francis Munyua was successfully treated for brain cancer in India early this year, he met 13 lawmakers also receiving chemotherapy for various cancers.
“So many people are suffering in silence from cancer. Nobody wants to talk about it because of the stigma,” Munyua said when he returned in March.
“In India, I met hundreds of cancer patients from Kenya alone. Among them were nine of my fellow MPs and four Senators,” he said.
Munyua was successfully treated, joining a small group of prominent Kenyans to go public about their cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Others were not lucky and went silently.
Since 2010, at least 10 prominent Kenyans have succumbed to various types of cancer, making it the main killer among leaders in that period.
1. One such prominent leader was Prof Wangari Maathai, who left quietly at night on Sunday, September 25, 2011, at the Nairobi Hospital Cancer Centre.
2. After Maathai’s death, former minister and MP for Kiambaa Njenga Karume followed. He died on Friday, February 24, 2012.
Karume’s death was caused by prostate cancer which had spread and had become impossible to manage.
3. Five years later, former Nyeri Governor Nderitu Gachagua was killed by pancreatic cancer at 64 years in February 2017.
4. Other well-known Kenyans include former TV presenter Janet Kanini who succumbed to lung cancer in March 2017 after a two-year battle.
5. Former Kitui West MP Francis Nyenze, 60, passed away in December 2017 after a 10-year battle with colon cancer.
6. In December the same year, Harvard professor Calestous Juma died after a two-year battle with cancer.
7. Former Baringo South MP Grace Kipchoim, 49, also passed away in April last year after succumbing to acute colon cancer.
8. And while Kenyans were mourning these leaders, former Migori Senator Ben Oluoch, 55, died in June last year after a protracted battle with throat cancer.
9. Former Maendeleo ya Wanawake Organization chairperson Jane Kiano, 74, succumbed to lung cancer in October last year at the Nairobi Hospital.
10. Other Kenyans who succumbed to the disease are Jonathan Toroitich who succumbed to pancreatic cancer on April 20 this year at Nakuru War Memorial Hospital.
11. More recently was former Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore, 61, who died peacefully at home on July 1.
He had been treated of acute myeloma leukemia, cancer that does not form tumours.