KALUNGU.As Fr. Joseph Lukwago shares a story of his courageous battle against prostate and bone cancer, a visibly worried lady descends to his office at Villa Maria Catholic Parish in Kalungu District.
She knocks at his office door and the man of God allows her to enter.
“ Good morning Father. We request that you get time and come to administer last ritual rights to our sick mother,” the lady says.
Fr. Lukwago asks her to give details about the patient, before assuring her to pass by in a couple of hours to perform this Catholic faith ritual.
This scene gladdens Jackie Namulondo, a Kitovu Mobile medical worker whom I had moved with to write Fr Lukwago’s success story of how he has benefited from palliative care as he braves the double trouble of two types of cancer.
“I am glad that a patient who had shifted to the Diocesan rest house, is rapidly improving to the extent of performing some of your pastoral duties,” Ms Namulondo tells Fr. Lukwago.
But the seemingly reserved priest is quick to appreciate the services rendered to him by Kitovu Mobile .
He is convinced that it is the absolute reason for his steady improvement and thanks God for bringing Kitovu Mobile to care for people like him.
The 73- year -old priest says it is Kitovu Mobile’s treatment emotional support that has seen him get strong.
“Whenever I call you for support, you are ready to give it to me and further ensure that I don’t run out of morphine because you know I need it for the rest of my life ” he says
He adds: Your emotional support has made me accept who I am”
According to Fr Lukwago’ s belief, God would have taken him already; because He (God) would have been burdened by taking care of him.
“But because Kitovu Mobile is ready to shoulder this burden on behalf of God,I divinely think it is the reason He decided to keep me around until today ,”
Knowing that one has cancer, comes with depression and anxiety, but Fr Lukwago says he has been able to forget it through emotional support.
The intense pain which escorts cancer is also kept at bay by red oral morphine.
According to Ms Namulondo, red oral morphine is stronger than Green coloured morphine, when it comes to suppressing pain.
“Because he could be getting through a lot of pain, we chose to give him red morphine such that he completely feels no pain,” Ms Namulondo explains
Fr Lukwago says this sees him perform some pastoral work and can even drive a car compared to previous times when he had not yet enrolled on palliative care.
How he learnt about cancer
He recalls having constant back pain, which saw him seek medical attention and had a biopsy at Nsambya Hospital
“I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and advised to go to India for treatment. But this was not possible. It required a lot of money which was not readily available he says
The available option, Fr Lukwago says was to send him to Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) ,Mulago ,Kampala where he started getting treatment.
With in no time, he was told that cancer had spread to the bones and it was hard for him to be enrolled on radiotherapy.
At UCI, he met Dr Fred Okuku, a medical oncologist whom he is indebted for his extra tender care given to him, whenever he goes for Chemotherapy.
Dr Okuku’s care, coupled with Kitovu Mobile ‘s support, is what makes Fr Lukwago yearn for more days of living because the pain which sees cancer patients petition God to call them, is dealt with.
Tracing his pastoral service.c0mmand
Ordained in 1974,Fr Lukwago has served in different parishes.
He started at Betelemu Parish in 1974,and later transferred to Makondo Parish where he served for 12 years.
He was then transferred to Kitovu Parish as a parish priest (1985-90)
He also served at Bukulula and Kitaasa Parishes, before he was posted to Villa Parish in 2012 where he serves as a curate.