When Forence Opiyo was 10 years old, he noticed there was a cyst growing on his genitals. He got it removed the next year, but doctors didn’t get rid of everything – it came back and continued to grow.
The 21-year-old says he couldn’t go back to the doctors to get the rest of it taken out, as pockets of the country were thrown into violent turmoil following an election.
He adds: “I finished my medicine but it continued to grow. I was supposed to come for a second operation but we couldn’t raise the money we needed.”
They grew so large that he had to drop out of school because kids were making fun of him and clothes weren’t fitting properly. He ended up spending all his time at home and mending shoes for people to raise money.
His brother Eliza says: “I am the one taking care of things. It is not easy, it is very hard. Sometimes I do farming or cut sugarcane and sometimes I grow tomatoes.”
But it wasn’t until his neighbour made a plea on Facebook to raise awareness and funds for Forence that the young man finally got the help he needed.
Three days after the post, an ambulance from Our Lady of Mercy Ranguma picked him up before he underwent two surgeries to get back to normal.
The first was aimed at debulking the penis, which was holding a lot of excess mass; before the second procedure reconstructed it into a more normal and usable shape. Doctors say he should be like every other man his age in about three months.
One of the surgical nurses present during the surgery, Jane Tombe, described how impressed she was at Forence’s attitude during the procedure. She says: “I haven’t seen anything like that before. But Forence is outgoing. A very jovial boy who is very positive in life.
“His daily life must have been so challenging before his operation but there was so much hope in him. He is going to progress well.
“You know when you see a patient progress very well in my profession; I get very happy and am happy for Forence. I think God loves him so much and he will do well in life.”