No Longer at Ease


Despite official cover, the health condition of Sullivan Chime, governor of Enugu State, is manifestly degenerating

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Apr. 15, 2013 @01:00 GMT

THE health condition of Sullivan Chime, governor of Enugu State seems to be degenerating again. His recent pictures especially the one taken in Enugu on April 1, during the commissioning of a church built by Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, showed that his health has again deteriorated compared to the time he returned to the country after spending 140 days abroad for cancer treatment.

Sources in Enugu said that the governor’s face is swollen on the right cheek and it’s becoming a source of worry to his supporters in the state. According the source, Chime always declined to be photographed so that people would not notice the state of his health. There are feelings in some quarters in the state that his return to the country was borne out of political pressure. There were also reports that he was flown abroad last month following complications over his health condition. But, Chime has come out to say that he went back to London for a brief medical check-up. He also admitted that he had cancer of the nose and that it had gone into remission after a thorough treatment at a London hospital. To show that it was not a big deal, he claimed that he was an outpatient for the period he was in London, meaning that he was not hospitalised. According to him, there was nothing to worry about.

But medical experts say that cancer of the nose is a very broad  because it leads to the throat and has communications with both ears and air spaces in the head. Ali Usiholo, an oncologist with the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, said cancer of the nose is common among people who abuse alcohol, tobacco, especially cigarettes, marijuana and smoked fish.

“The most devastating of these cancers is the nasopharyngeal carcinoma, NPC. This cancer occurs in the throat and is usually seen in elderly people, though it can occur in the young, between 16 and 25 years. Its cause is not known like majority of cancers but it is commonly seen in people who abuse alcohol, tobacco, especially cigarettes, marijuana and smoked fish. Research has also shown that it’s more common among the Igbos because they consume more smoked fish,” he said.

Usiholo said the major problem of these cancers is that they can spread to places in the head and neck that cannot easily be operated. He acknowledged that cancer of the nose is curable if the patient detects the symptoms early. “The best way to detect and confirm this cancer is through constant medical check-ups and biopsy which involves taking a piece of the cancer to the laboratory to confirm the diagnosis and radiological investigations like X-rays, computed tomography scan and magnetic resonance which will show how widespread the cancer is, before surgery can be done and how it should be done.

“Most times these cancers are inoperable because of how widespread they have become. The patients may then be offered palliative care to control the symptoms and this can be done using radiotherapy and chemotherapy (cancer drugs). But for patients who come early enough, surgery can be done with the aim of achieving a cure.”

According to Usiholo, nose is an organ that has the outer part which people see and this is made up of skin with underlying cartilage that is supported on a skeletal frame work. “When cancers appear on the nose, they are usually very obvious and present themselves in two ways: either as swellings or ulcers. The way they show is such that it is deforming and this makes the individual to go to a hospital much earlier and a diagnosis of cancer can be made and treatment offered.

“But in cancers that develop inside the nose, where it is invisible to all, the signs they give are usually more subtle and these include nose bleeding, discharge of foul smelling mucous from the nose, earaches and when they are large enough, can block the nostril on one side and even cause hearing loss on that side. Ominously, it may not give any sign until it has spread to the neck causing small hard swellings of the lymph nodes,” he said.

Despite the condition of the governor, it is risky to say anything about it in the state. There are indications that his loyalists are witch-hunting some members of the Save Enugu Group, SEG, which campaigned against his long absence in the state. A reliable source in the state told Realnews that some properties belonging to some members of the group were demolished few weeks ago by the state government.

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