Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore on Wednesday night finally broke his silence on the rare blood cancer that saw him stay out of the biggest Telecommunication Company for a period of 9 months 2 weeks.
Mr. Collymore, who was diagnosed with Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), laid bare intimate details of what he went through, during a period that can be described as one of his lowest.
Speaking during an interview on JKL, Collymore said that though he was not shocked when diagnosis revealed that he had AML, he was disappointed when the doctors said he had to undergo treatment for 6-9months.
Being the Safaricom’s CEO he was worried about staying out of the company’s operations for such a long time.However, had he not been diagnosed early, Collymore says that he would not have made it for last year’s Christmas.
“When I was finally diagnosed in London, the doctor told me that I probably had it for about 6 months. Being diagnosed with cancer for me was not such a big deal and a lot of people seems to think that is a bit strange.
“But I was really upset when they told me that it was going to take 9 months. I was like are you crazy? There is a company that has to be managed back at home and a family to take care of,” he said adding that his ex-wife and sister were also diagnosed with cancer.
“It would have killed me if I was not diagnosed early. Because AML becomes fatal within weeks and month. It would have killed me by Christmas, I would have been ex-Safaricom CEO,” he said jockingly.
Though Collymore wanted a speedy treatment so that he could get back to Kenya to continue with operations at Safaricom, doctors warned that such a route will see him relapse.
“If you go home I can guarantee you that in six-month time, the cancer will back and it will be worse than when you came here and I would not be able to put you in a curative programme,” the doctor told Collymore when he suggested that he wanted to undergo a speedy treatment in London.
During the treatment period Bob as he is fondly referred to spend a lot of time in isolation. He reveals that he was in a negative pressure room where his wife Wambui only visited two times a day donned in protective gears.
“I was stuck in the room for seven weeks. During this time I was thinking a lot and reading. I was also working with my team through face time,” he said.
Mr Collymore’s doctors are currently closely monitoring him and while on his road to recovery, the Safaricom boss divulged that he will not be able to attend social gatherings because of his low immunity.
“I need to stay away from social gatherings, parties, buffets because my immunity is at zero so I am susceptible. All the immunity I built in my 60years is gone. I also need to stay away from young children. My doctor also told me that I cannot go to Mombasa,” he said.
Collymore added: “people need to understand that I am not trying to be offensive.”