Monday, February 12, 2024 12:20 am
Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
The king of England has cancer; may the cancer be short-lived and may the king live long on the throne of his forbears which he mounted at 75. When the king catches cancer, or when cancer catches the king, the land is in mourning. For we know the unforgiving aggression and anger of a remorseless cancer. But hope there is. This cancer was caught early by eagle-eyed doctors and the king will be spared. Perhaps it was the prostate that saved the king, saved the monarchy, and saved the land. What a fitting tribute therefore to the power of the prostate and such allied matters!
The king was unusually open about his prostate. That very sensitive and private part of male anatomy, for royalty or working-class folks, is not for public show. African elders have a proverb that ‘a child may play with its mother’s breasts, but not its father’s testicles! Flash back to 1951 when heavy smoker King George VI, father of Queen Elizabeth 11, underwent a left total pneumonectomy, euphemistically called ‘structural abnormalities’ but was indeed cancer. The physicians hid the diagnosis from him, the public and the medical profession. Although the king recovered slowly from the surgery, he died suddenly in his sleep on February 6, 1952, at the age of 56. And Elizabeth became Queen of England. Now, the Queen has passed on. There is no information on the cause of her death.
So, we must commend King Charles for openness. The king’s private parts are not for public discussion. Indeed, the dead body of most African king is often hidden. Burial is often secret, except for some, like the last Ibadan monarch whose Islamic funeral was held publicly. But in the 21st century, the monarchy, especially the British monarchy, has become open and matters of their bedroom have entered social media and mainstream newspapers. NHS reports that after the king came open on his prostate, ‘visits to the NHS website prostate enlargement page were up by more than 1000%’. I went to check mine too! Be sure that the result is for my private consumption.
Prostate enlargement is a health condition which affects half of all men starting in their 50s. It is also called ‘benign prostatic hyperplasia’. The chances of getting the condition increase with age. Some men in their 40s can also have an enlarged prostate. The main symptoms of an enlarged prostate are related to urination, either storage symptoms or voiding symptoms. Doctors say that being ‘proactive rather than reactive with the symptoms may be beneficial in preserving bladder and kidney functions. Here in Nigeria, the common attitude among men is that surgery should be avoided because it is a fifty-fifty success story. Whether this is tue I cannot say for certain. Bu the sheer number of herbs which Nigerians peddle and drink for prostate treatment is indicative of their attitude to orthodox treatment. Herbs which reduce the symptoms are found in the market.
To be sure, most presidents and Heads of State in Africa are emperors in temper and character. They are not to be challenged. They do not disclose their health challenges to mere mortals. There is the fear too that an open disclosure of one’s health status could invite evil forces to add fire to fire and make the ailment incurable! Superstition is a way of life for them. Former President Buhari stayed in London for months taking treatment for an undisclosed ailment at the expense of the state. If our rulers must receive treatment for any ailment, it must be abroad. No shame. No dignity. But King Charles simply checked into The Clinic in London for treatment. He did not fly to America or France or Dubai. Pause for a while and see the embarrassment it would cause if Britain did not have the facility to treat her king or Prime Minister!
Kings, like the rest of us, are mortals. They are subject to the frailty of mortals. They could fall ill and recover or die. They will all die, ultimately. The news therefore is not that the King has cancer. The news is that he is open about it. There is amazing self-confidence that the public announcement of prostate and suggests. He has lived a good life. At 75, anything could happen. One must show courage and get on with life. Cancer is dreaded. The mere diagnosis of cancer has killed some. It changes everything. It brings one’s mortality very close. Some have been given three months to live after diagnosis. At such times, one must put ‘his house in order! Repentance, forgiveness, kindness, and charity could come into the equation to make peace with God.
Scary as it is to have a national leader who has cancer, the greatest problem is when the king himself is a form of cancer to the state. A president or governor or prime minister who bleeds the state is a form of cancer. Such cancerous heads should be severed the way cancerous organs are surgically removed. This is the notion of the king as scapegoat. It is atavistic, but not uncommon in modern history, either through the ballot box or other legitimate means. Indeed, the mass of the people are likely to pray for cancer to take away a cancerous king! Luckily, Charlie is not in that mold, despite Diana and the rest of their history.
If the king has cancer, the king can be saved, the king should be saved, and the land can be saved. But if the king himself is the cancer, there is no hope for the land. We sympathize with the king and wish him well. Both parents of his were nonagenarians when they took their exit from the world. It is my hope that he too would have the same grace extended to him. While nothing is automatic, there is no reason not to believe that with the best of medical care his lot would be like theirs. Long live the king!