My name is Salome Agallo and I’m from Kenya. For 21 years, I have lived with HIV and survived cancer 3 times. I now have an ostomy.

I'm sharing my story because I wish to inspire/encourage someone who may or is loosing hope.

Visual Diary

1 July 2021

A life saver in time of despair

Hearing those words "you have cancer", is indescribable. The fear that set in almost immediately is overpowering - even for the strongest of us.

I did not let cancer define me. I decided to define it in my life. I was already battling HIV and had survived a suicide attempt by throwing myself into the Indian Ocean. Therefore, I knew this was just another hurdle. That didn’t happen immediately. It took years of self-reflection and work to change how cancer would appear in my life.

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I wish to begin telling my story using this photo that was taken at the beach in Mombasa - Kenya (July 2021)

Visual Diary

26 July 2021

Motherhood

All love begins and ends there. As a mother, you are never alone in your thoughts. In my quiet moments, I think about my two boys Jack and James who died at 2 and 7 months respectively, due to HIV‑related complications.

Thankfully, we now have Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV programmes, so HIV‑positive mothers can have HIV-negative babies. However, existing barriers include discrimination, and lack of support, confidentiality, and HPV screening. Further, antiretroviral drugs for infants are not readily available in most health facilities.

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Here I wish to share about motherhood and how I lost my two babies.

Visual Diary

26 July 2021

Never walk alone

Elephants are the largest and one of the most unique land animals. They have characteristically long trunks, large floppy ears, and wide legs. Most notably, they have thick skin. I conquered cancer 3 times, which has given me "thick skin" too. I am not afraid to face any challenges.

I also realize that I cannot walk alone, and therefore belong to patient support groups for psycho-social support and networking. However, the biggest challenge is the cost of treatment that most of us need to manage our conditions.

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I wish to continue with the story using this photo to bring out the aspect of support that I got and encourage others to do the same.

Visual Diary

26 July 2021

Not all disabilities are visible

Cancer left me with lifetime scars, which are not always visible. For example, I have to walk around with a special pouch known as a colostomy bag that collects my stool. I need at least two in a day and each costs $10 USD.

I am able to get free anti retrovirals. However, whenever I get an infection, I have to pay for the treatment separately which is costly.

I am disclosing this not because I want pity, but to remind you that healthcare can be expensive.

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I wish to continue by sharing my story of living with an Ostomy and how expensive it is.

Visual Diary

26 July 2021

I am still standing

I make my first-hand experience of living with cancer and HIV count every single day. This is important because integrated approaches to multi-morbidity prevention and management can reduce the siloed, one-size-fits all approach and ensure more robust treatment and care.

Aligned with the GIPA Principle and the WHO Framework on Integrated People-Centered Health Services, people living with HIV and NCDs should be meaningfully involved in planning, implementation and monitoring of all health interventions.

Together we can build a world where heroes like us do the right thing.

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I wish to end with this photo with the message: "I AM STILL STANDING" and "KEEPING HOPE ALIVE"!

NCD Diaries


For 21 years, I have lived with HIV and survived cancer three times. I now have an ostomy. I'm sharing my story because I wish to inspire/encourage someone who may be losing hope, and to urge health systems about the importance of adopting an integrated approach to disease prevention and management.

Salome Agallo, lived experience of cancer, Kenya

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