Not many post-1970 kids know Dr. Okechukwu Ikejiani. But many who lived during his time remember that he was Chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and at the same time doubled as Pathologist-in-Chief of the corporation in Lagos. He was a university teacher and an expert in the medical field.
Biographical records of him available on igbonet.com, listed him as a lecturer in Pathology at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Consultant Pathologist at the University Teaching Hospital Ibadan, Director of National Clinic Laboratories Ibadan, Medical Director of Pfizer Laboratories, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Council of University of Ibadan. The records also said he was one the pioneer members of the Council of the University of Nigeria and was a fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, London; Medical College of Pathologists Nigeria and West African College of Physicians.
Ikejiani was a member of the Canadian Medical Association, Canadian Association of Pathologists, Canadian Association of Medical Microbiologist, Canadian College of Microbiologist, Canadian Society of Clinical and Investigative Medicine, New York Academy of Sciences and was honoured with Doctor of Science by Lincoln University, University of Nigeria Nsukka and a Doctor of Literature by the University College of Cape Breton, Sydney, Nova Scotia.
The story about Dr. Ikejiani, who died on August 19, 2007 at the age of 90, is that he fought his way to the top of his profession and left a legacy in his children, some of whom he left Nigeria with at the end of the war against Biafra in 1970, first for Portugal and later settled in Canada where he had been a demonstrator in the department of microbiology and pathology at Banting Institute, University of Toronto, which provided him opportunity to conduct a research on trypanosomiasis and tumors in 1948.
One of the kids he left Nigeria with at the time is Chioma.
Chioma is a journalist and producer of popular TV Talk show series, Amoi Unplugged, a programme she had dedicated towards telling the story of the diversification of the Nigerian economy by the government. With the series now going into its second season on NTA International, Chioma looks set to inform more than entertain with the programme which has so far hosted the Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler, Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu (as Minister of State, Petroleum Resources), and Chairman of Nigeria Communications Commission, Sen. Olabiyi Durojaiye.
Other high profile executives who have featured on the talk show are the Executive Vice Chairman the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Garba Dambatta, Executive Secretary, National Lottery Trust Fund (NLTF) Bello Maigari who shared his commitment towards improving the quality of life of Nigerians through the implementation of good cause projects through the trust fund initiatives, Director General of the National Lottery Regulatory Commission Lanre Gbajabiamila and boss of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello among others.
But this is not about Amoi Unplugged. It is instead about Chioma and her defeat of cancer. No word describes what Chioma achieved fighting cancer than miracle. Yes, it was a medical miracle made possible by advanced medicine and health management not yet available to her in Nigeria. She said to herself ‘I am not going to let this sit here’, and that was it. The counter, and further, diagnosis proved the initial one right. Her body was being slowly ravaged by cancer and she took up the battle.
Her success was that early diagnosis helped her in making very quick decision about treatment. She did not stay back to see one miracle worker or a prayer warrior, or a pastor. She knows that God exists. But she also acknowledged the fact that God blessed humanity with insight for medical advance. Wisdom means acknowledging the immanence of God and at the same time, appreciate the fact of medicine. That was a trait she took from her father. That was the spirituality that she faced her treatment with. Chioma dutifully submitted to all the stages of treatment and observed her prescriptions.
She was diagnosed in Nigeria but had to travel to Canada, on the advice of her doctor in Nigeria, to get treatment. “I was diagnosed in 2016 when I was having great time working. My doctor called and I told her that I did my last mammogram two years ago and she encouraged me to go to a hospital. I kept thinking of which hospital to go to in Nigeria. I had to find out who the medical doctors are and the right hospital since my doctor is in Canada.
“I had to visit a friend at a Turkish hospital and when I saw the equipment and the professionalism of the doctors, I decided to do my check up there. It was a very normal medical checkup. I walked in and never thought about anything”.
“I was diagnosed in Nigeria and I stayed back. The Nigerian hospital operated and took out the lump and because there was no working radiology equipment, I was asked to travel to Canada. It was while in Canada that I was put on chemotherapy and I was on stage 4 which is very serious diagnosis”, was how she explained her ordeal with cancer.
The beauty is that she is totally free of cancer. Her last check returned bigger news for her which has made her more exuberant. That is what Chioma has become. She is a fighter.
She defeated cancer and is today pushing her way through and fighting to change the narrative on Nigeria by exporting Nigerian values and developmental progress to the Diaspora through her work on Amoi Unplugged.
Those who have found themselves associating with Chioma find her story of the survival of cancer inspiring. Hers is a story that ought to be told at every Cancer treatment center in Africa. People need not lose hope when diagnosed with such diseases. There is always hope for those who fight back.
That is what Chioma has tactically shown. And that is why she loves God, the God that led her back to her country, and to her home town in Agukwu-Nri.