By Tafadzwa Mutsotso
People with albinism are at risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that is caused by frequent exposure to sun-light.
Albinism is a congenital disorder that results in a lack of pigmentation that normally gives colour to hair skin and eyes.
Tamson Phiri from Gwanda who has albinism is patient of squamous carcinoma who is going through a difficult time due to the deterioration of his health.
Phiri has been suffering from carcinoma since 2016 and it has developed through the years to a point where it has damaged almost half of his face.
He said the skin cancer started as a minor irritation and later developed into a big wound and that is when he went for screening and was diagnosed of squamous cell carcinoma in April 2019.
“Something like an irritation of some sort like I had been scratched appeared on my chick, it then got bigger to about one centimetre in size, until at one point it burst, that is when I discovered that it had actually started eating the flesh inside,” Phiri told Conical Tower Pro.
“Puss had already developed inside though it looked simple from outside.
“In April 2019, one of the doctors who saw me when I was in pain suggested we do a biopsy as he assumed it might be a cancer of some sort.
“It turned out the doctor was right; it was squamour cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that is common in people living with albinism.”
Phiri said the skin cancer had caused damage to the bone on one side of his face which has caused him to lose his one of his eyes and to constantly have some headaches.
“The wound is not healing, it has eaten the bone that forms the lower part of my eye socket,” he said.
“My eye is suspended, practically I do not have a bone on the other side of my face and it gives me a permanent and persistent headache which I find difficult to live with.”
Phiri described the attitude of the society as a contributing factor to the deterioration of his healthy as he mentioned that he had to isolate after realising that no one wanted to give him emotional support.
“People already had an attitude against me because of albinism and the society finds it hard to accept me and now the challenge is doubled with the fact that I have a hole, a decaying wound on the side of my face,” he said.
“Friends and family frustrate me so I just started keeping to myself, isolating myself from everybody and everything.
“It needs both financial and mental attention to fully recover.
“We need a strong and accommodative support system as cancer recovery is also in the state of the mind.”
The condition has made Phiri’s life so difficult as he is always spending time in isolation and constantly seeking medical attention, this had drained him emotionally, physically and financially.
“I do not stay in hospital for long, I only go there for chemotherapy because I am on caliative care treatment, the challenge is even worse because I need this wound to be dressed every day and I buy bandages and painkiller injections alone,” said Phiri.
Phiri is the last born in a family of eight and both his parents and some of his siblings are deceased.
Phiri is appealing for help to raise funds needed for his medication and emotional support.