Janet Kanini Ikua. She is the face of happy and energy. She has the looks that make you pause while surfing through the channels. She is obviously smart – always having a word for whichever expression.
JANET TALKS ABOUT FAMILY, CAREER AND APPRECIATES HER HUSBAND: LISTEN TO HER ON B.RADIO
You may now be aware that she is off the screen after being diagnosed with lung cancer Stage Four – and is receiving her chemotherapy in India. This is after a stint of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) whose cause remained elusive until September 13, this year, when the news of the ‘C’ word was broken to her and her husband.
Seeing her from this perspective amplifies what I thought of her to the millionth power. There is something about someone saying what they really feel when in a precarious situation. Then divulging the details eloquently, passionately and with humour! Her fight against lung cancer is feisty and inspiring. It is now clear that ‘happy’ is everywhere – in the dungeons, in joblessness, in lack, under the migraines…Just lift the issue and you find it there. Good things are un-destroyable. Actually they are amplified in the heat of trouble. Thus my re-walk with Janet Kanini-Ikua.
“I have a Bachelors degree in Education – Home Economics from Kenyatta University – oh I love teaching!” She chimes. And for the love of teaching, she hit the theatres and starred in a number of plays…teaching the society through art. She was then absorbed into NTV – lighting the screen with shows like Out & About – the travel show, some news anchoring and now The Property Show. Pampers recognized her as the most ideal mum to communicate their virtues. So alongside TV, she doubles up as Pampers’ brand ambassador.
She met Ikua after one of her Phoenix theatre shows. They clicked, and five years later they started their happily ever after. The pregnancies were pretty easy and the two munchkins – Peter and Jasmine, ever so sweet, became. They exude that cute a little-shy-about-new-attention sweetness, trying to witness the events behind their mothers dress. They surely make for a happy warm home that Janet loves to ‘fly’ to.
A parent on medication
“I woke up one day with muscle pulls on both legs. There was ankle and wrist pain too. I went to the clinic and got some painkillers to ease the pain. That Easter Holiday I travelled to ushago with my two children balancing on my two legs. When I got back my left leg was painful and swollen – 1 and ½ inches bigger. It was warmer and darker in colour. I thought it was the shoes I’d been wearing, or arthritis, low calcium or low potassium,” she narrates. Tests showed it was none of that. So later she got the results of a subsequent test.
“I limped with the results to NTV, and to Pampers – something forbidden for someone with a blood clot,” Janet says laughing. “When I finally sat down and told my mother that I had been diagnosed with DVT, there was a lot of silence on the other end. My sister (a medic) called me soon after that with the same amount of shock and phone calls and texts from them kept flowing. I was wondering that big deal was all about…” she says laughing. You can be sure with all that concern the next day she was at the doctors.
“I was admitted straight away. That is when it registered that something was really wrong,” she says seriously.
A few days later she was released with blood thinners, orthopedic stockings to the knees and instructions to keep off stilettos. These were followed to the letter. Two days later, however, she was breathless, couldn’t carry a few things she would easily carry, and going up the stairs saw her break a sweat. She had to go back to the hospital. “Come sit down…,” said the doctor with a grimmer face. “I don’t mean to be alarming – but you have a blood clot in your lungs and in your heart. That thing in your heart is close to the valve, so if you move about it can block the pass-way – making it fatal,” she recalls the doctor explaining. And it did not help that while this news was being relayed, her husband had to be on the other wing of the hospital with their sick son who had been admitted.
“I was later wheeled into the HDU in Nairobi West. Everyone I passed had oxygen. I was there for six nights. “I watched the guy next to me die – after some laboured breathing and all sorts of fluid coming from his mouth…” she says as she breaks down.
Janet had to keep her mood up – especially for her hubby and children – and herself too. “That’s when I started my Facebook postings,” she says. “The first one brought 600 responses of prayers and encouragement!” appreciates Janet. She says it gave her a lot of energy to keep on.
Then came the moment they had to decide between an open heart surgery to fish out the clot and thrombolytic therapy – taking medicine that would go smashing the blood clots. The challenge with the open heart surgery, was that they were going to have to open her up again after the surgery to put the ‘sieve’ in her waistline, so the blood clots forming in her legs don’t travel up to her vital organs. It was also going to take a much longer time to heal, which meant longer time away from her children. The thrombolytic option’s hitch was that you don’t know where the pieces of the shattered clots go. They could go and clog a critical conduit, resulting in death. “So all options weighed, my hubby and I agreed he signs up for the latter – thrombolytic therapy,” she says adding that the decision had to be between her and her hubby – since many opinions could delay the process or dissuade her from her conviction.