Tobi Ojeleye, Abeokuta.
On the 6th of February, 2023, I was called by a big sister of mine, Mrs. Musa Richard. She needed me to meet and have an interview with a woman who survived Cancer and made the best use of her pain, to create a cancer support foundation and a natural food company.
Survival is a daily affair, some say. Meet the founder of Segunfunmi Foods Nigeria Limited and the Founder of Segunfunmi Cancer Support Foundation, Mrs. Funmilola Agbayewa, a living victor and not a victim of Cancer. She narrated her childhood experiences, lessons, relationship with parents and families and her journey through life, in this exclusive interview with Tobi Ojeleye.
Can we meet you?
My name is Funmilola Agbayewa, I am the founder of Segunfunmi foods Nigeria Limited and the Founder of Segunfunmi cancer support foundation. I was born 49 years ago. My parents are Mr. and Mrs. Femi Elizabeth Anifowose. I was born in Lagos, I was raised in Lagos and can be called a Lagos girl.
Can we know your relationship with your parents, grandparents?
My relationship with my parents was awesome. My father was a very good person and my mother was also a good person. My late dad was very humble and he taught us practically everything I know; Cooking, baking, swimming. My dad taught us because my mum was an auditor, but was closer to my Dad. It was awesome growing up with my dad, though he is late now, I miss him.
Any memories of their lessons and teaching?
We are four girls and one boy; My immediate brother is a boy so my dad was so passionate about us, he was more than a father to us. I practically tell my dad anything. In those days when anybody toast me, as at then when I was old enough, I will tell him. I remember my 15th year birthday; my dad bought me my first makeup after his trip to UK. He got me so many goodies and he gave me one that I will never forget.
Other memories you will like to share?
With my children, my boys have been awesome boys, glorious boys, I remember during my cancer challenges, they actually took care of me, they were just there and ready to do anything. There was nothing that was irritating to them, my vomiting, poo, they were ready to clean everything and take care of me. My husband was my super nurse, with his help and the boys and of course my super sweet sisters and their husbands that were helping with cash and kind. God bless them all.
What was it like to be a teenager?
In Lagos, it was awesome. I enjoyed my teenage hood. It was awesome. In fact, so many memories to talk about.
Which is the happiest memory?
I have so many happiest memories, when I had my son, when I went to school, when I was serving in Kebbi state, all of a sudden, I was summoned to the mess because I served in the military cantonment in Birnin kebbi. I was called and was like what is wrong with this people now, what is it they want? On getting there, I saw my parents, I was amazed, you people came again, why don’t you leave me alone and let me have a life. But it was a good memory because it shows how loving and caring they are, to come all the way from Lagos to Kebbi state, is part of the happiest memory I will ever remember.
I went to Okota grammar school, Isolo. I finished 1991. I went to Ogun polytechnic, I did marketing and did my HND at the polytechnic Ibadan, 1996. I have so many other entrepreneurial diploma courses.
Which is your favorite area of study?
It has always been in marketing. I am always a field person and I have loved agriculture since my childhood. I love anything agricultural business.
Significant people in your life in your early 20s, 30s and 40s and their influence in your life?
For example, my uncle, Mr. Fashanu who was actually my second father and brought me up in the right way. I followed his steps in sales and many things.
How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband where I was working. He was actually my boss and that was how the relationship started and that is where I am now. I am in his house now.
What advice would you give as a parent?
Parenting is a serious issue. I am a parent to boys, I prayed to God to give me caring children and it has been so. I decided to be their friend so they can easily tell me anything and it has been working for me. I am their friend. If anything happens to them, they will tell me before they tell their dad and I advise them not to follow the multitude.
I advise them to have their own identity and create a niche for themselves. Because everybody is sagging or taking drugs doesn’t permit you to do so.
Be different and distinct in your own behavior. I have been saying that and it has been working for me and I pray it keeps working for me. The society is now toxic, there are different nonsense in the society now that we parents need to buckle up.Segunfunmi cancer foundation[/caption]
What came to your mind the day you were diagnosed of cancer?
I wasn’t diagnosed like that. 2017 since I left school, I have been a farmer and I was on the field. This particular day, my workers misbehaved and I sent them away. This took me home early, very unlike me, I don’t go home early. I said to myself, let me have a proper bath and pamper myself. That was when I discovered a lump in my breast. I knew it was different. When my husband came back, I told him that there is something in my breast, he wasn’t serious about it so I told my partner in the farm the second day that there is something in my breast which I am a bit worried about. I wasn’t thinking about cancer. When my partner touched it, she agreed that there is something there. Luckily, she just interviewed the former Governor’s wife, they wanted to do an uplift. I asked the way forward and she said I should put my name so I can do lumpectomy test for free. The result came out three months after, that was on the 23rd of December 2017. The doctor called me and advised me to see my surgeon on the first of 2018. I was curious and I called her back that just like that and she said yes. I further asked if there is anything in my result, she said there is nothing in my result and dropped the call again. That was when I knew something was wrong somewhere.
I called her back and said ma, please just tell me now, tell me what is in my result. That was when she said there was a trace of cancer in the pathology result. I immediately called my sister who has been waiting for the result because after the lumpectomy test, the lump started going up and my sister said that this thing is cancerous but I said whether it is cancerous or not, let the result come out first. I made up my mind for whatever it is and when the result came out, I told her that the result is out and they said it is cancer. She said she said so. She asked the next step and I told my sister I was told to see my surgeon on the 2nd of January, 2018. I went ahead to see the surgeon in Sagamu and the guy broke it down and advised me. He also asked if I have heard of mastectomy.
Meanwhile, my sister has been telling me that if it is mastectomy, you are going to do it. So, I replied the doctor that yes, I do. The doctor said that is what they will do for me and I said OK. The other doctor came in and said, have I made up my mind and when will I do the surgery, that was when I started crying. He advised that it is better I do it on time so that the lump won’t grow more than that and turn out to be something else. I called all my sister and we made up our mind, I got home and informed my husband and he said No, that I will not do it. I didn’t argue with my husband because I have already made up my mind. My husband then said he has a friend that we can go to, who is a trado-medical doctor in Lagos. I said no problem, I will follow him, but in my mind, I have made up my mind what I want to do. In fact, before following my husband, I have booked a date with the doctor for the mastectomy. I went ahead with my husband to Lagos and on getting there, the guy gave us series of stories and I asked him one question about the people he treated, can I talk to them and see there progress and he said they have all travelled out to Canada. That gave me a red sign and I made up my mind that I am not going there. The scary thing the trado-medical doctor told me is that, most of the herbs will be capsulated and I will be using sixteen tablets of it per day for three good months. He said there are still going to be different types of teas I will be taking along with the tablets. In my mind, I made up my mind I was not going back even though I wanted to make my husband happy.
He gave my husband the bill and it was eight hundred thousand naira (N800, 000) for a treatment I am not even sure will work. I just told my husband it is ok. Luckily for me, he had to go for an assignment in Abuja that same week I have booked. I saw my surgeon on the 2nd and booked on the 10th for my surgery. That was how I went for the surgery with my sisters. The day I was going for the mastectomy, I called my husband because he was not around. I called him that I was already in the hospital, preparing for mastectomy. I said I have made up my mind and nothing is changing my mind. On the 10th of January, 2018, I went in for the mastectomy and one of my cousins was with me, a very awesome boy, Tobi Osilaja, my sisters were with and my friend, Mrs. Richard. We did it and I came out and after three months, the wound healed up and I started my chemotherapy. I did sixteen or twelve courses; I cannot remember precisely. Those were the most horrible days of my life, the day I don’t like to remember. The chemotherapy was just off it. I don’t pray my enemy goes through cancer, for those going through cancer, I pray to God to heal them and for us that are survivals, I pray to God to continue to heal us and strengthen us. Cancer is a deadly disease. I found out in the course of time that early detection saves life when it comes to cancer. It was God that made me do what I did on time. I was at the right place at the right time, I did it at the right time, I did chemotherapy, radiotherapy and took all my drugs for one and a half years. I was going on and off for the treatment. Many people helped me in the journey of the treatment. Cancer is an expensive treatment but I just enjoyed the grace of God and human being that helped me throughout the journey. The funds were just coming in and God just provided the grace to do it. I thank God.
Significant changes you discovered in your body during the time you discovered you had cancer?
There were actually no changes until when you start your treatment, the only change you will notice depends on the type of cancer you have, there are different types of cancer. In my own case, it was breast cancer, so after the lumpectomy test, I discovered that my breast was just getting bigger. The cells have been tampered with, so it was multiplying. In my own case I did early treatment. My result came out on the 23rd of December, I did my mastectomy, January 10th, it was not up to a month. I didn’t allow anybody to decide for me, I made my decision. I actually went out for a second opinion just to view the first opinion but the second wasn’t working for me so I went for the first opinion and I prayed and have faith that my faith will work for me and it will continue to work for me. In this case, there is no change, the only change you will start having is when you start talking chemotherapy, your hair will fall off, I was bald for about a year, my skin tone changed, I was so black. Everything practically about me changed but there was one thing I did not allow the devil to do to me and that was depression. I didn’t allow depression to happen to me because I discovered that in my own case, when you allow depression to come in, most drugs will not work because depression has come in.
Another thing is, when you have cancer, your eating habit will change. I was actually on the internet every time looking for food that I need to take to improve myself because cancer drugs break down your immunity so you need to build your immunity with foods and fruits. I was going online to see what and what I need to take, then my diet changed. It was in the course of my diet changing that my food and packaging business came up. I stopped eating per boiled rice and I started taking ofada rice. I started taking some herbs. One day I went for Daystar leadership course in 2019. But before going for that leadership course in 2019, people will be asking me what I am taking that my skin is glowing, I will introduce them to what I was selling because I needed money to buy drugs and I cannot continue begging people. That was how I started doing my business bit by bit with my cancer community. I will sell to them. That was how my business started from my pain. My pain brought out that Agric business aspect because I was into crops production before my cancer challenge.
God has been faithful. This is our sixth year and I have been bringing out different products. Now, we have ten products, all NAFDAC certified. So, cancer was actually a blessing in disguise in my own case. My business started during cancer. I started selling herbs, turmeric, ginger, I take them a lot and I started producing them into powder form to sell to my communities. In 2019, after the last dose of my chemotherapy, there was this leadership course by Daystar Church in Lagos and I told my sister to register for me online that I will come, I said since you will there, you will take care of me. I wasn’t looking pitiable but I was actually pitiable.
You can’t catch me pitiable; I am always looking good. When you come around to greet me, I tell you before coming not to bring that sober attitude towards me.
I send anyone coming to greet me a message not to come to my house and start crying. I don’t want anybody crying beside me because my sister’s cry is enough for me. I have one sister that is always crying beside me and she follows me to every hospital appointment and she will cry. In fact, the doctors will be saying that the person we are treating is not crying because I was not ready to show anybody any weakness. I was strong throughout. You hardly see me cry. You won’t catch me crying, you won’t catch me sorrowful because I know where I am going and I know what the Lord has told me that I will not be for sorrowful, that I will live and I have been standing on that word because the Lord has been working behind the scene.
It was at the leadership course that one of the facilitators came up and was talking, he was on crutches due to polio. While giving his message, he said, many of you will say you don’t have anything to do but there are things around you that you can do that will take you to a global audience. I was writing and I told my sister, you know that talk is for me and she sighed and asked, is it because I allowed you to follow me? My sisters were awesome, they were just pampering me and she said you’re not doing anything, except the sales you make on your clinic days. When I got home, I called one of the printers I know to say, I have this idea, I want you to print a poster for me. Segunfunmi has been a registered brand for long, that is what we have been using with my husband. I told the printer to design Segunfunmi foods for me, I want to be selling ofada, turmeric, ginger and I sent it to him. The second day, he gave me different designs and I told my sister I am starting a business and I did a sticker. I told her to take me to Ojota to buy plastics. I came back to Abeokuta and that was how the business started.
While fighting cancer, did you get more spiritual or religious?
No. I didn’t get more spiritual nor religious. I am the type that pray and not the type that run from one mountain to another. I was just going to my normal church and was just praying because I found out that Olorun lo da ewe ati Egbo (God is the creator of herbs and trees) and he did it for our own sake.
What I did was that I was taking my drugs and was praying to back it up.
I was not looking miracles and I was not looking for anyone to lay hands on me because I believe that miracle is already there. I was praying and my faith was working for me. I pray, take my drugs and in my own case, I followed everything the doctors instructed me to do. I followed the doctors advised from letter a to z. I did this with faith.
What major legacy will you like your family to remember you for?
That I am a fighter. I am a victor and not a victim of cancer.
How did you feel the day you realized you are completely free of cancer?
I was just doing my normal checking. There is this CA15 test, after I did, my doctor said, Mrs. Agbayewa, congratulations, you are cancer free. I asked again and she said you are cancer free. That was the happiest day of my life. I didn’t say anything to her neither did I shout, I just knew that God is working behind the scene. That day I knew that grace is my second name. I went out and called my sister because I am always calling her and said Bunmi, I am cancer free. I could hear her screaming and I called the other ones and after, I called my husband.
Ever since then, what have you been doing differently?
I have been sticking to my diet and doctor’s advice. I don’t joke with my doctor’s advice. When they demand I do any test I do it even when I don’t have the money, I tell them that I don’t have the money now and demand they give me maybe two weeks. I will look for the money and do the test and all my test have been coming out good because I serve a living God. Any test I am asked to do, when I bring the result, my doctors do congratulate me. Another thing I have been doing that have been working for me is my diet, I stick to my diet like no man’s business. I don’t eat what I am not supposed to eat and I love taking herbs a lot because that is what I am selling now.
I have been sticking to my diet and doctor’s advice.
I am not saying herbs helps your cancer to disappear, please don’t get me wrong, they are supplement that helps in destroying the cancer cells that grow in your body. Now that I have a foundation, I use to tell people, take your herbs and follow your doctor’s prescription. Both works together because that was what I found out in my own case.
Tell us about your foundation?
Last year I decided to create a foundation, that is SEGUNFUNMI CANCER SUPPORT FOUNDATION. The idea came to me that since I am a survival, why don’t I form a foundation to care for others. In our own foundation, we just sensitize and give relieve to them, talk to them on what to do. Most of the things I know now were not given to me like a time table, it was through research. Now I tell people that if you do your chemotherapy, google your mouth with water and salt. I was a victim of mouth ulcer for long before I found out that you have to google your mouth with salt and water immediately after your chemotherapy because it will go into all your body and you will start reacting immediately. There are times that I will not be able to eat for three weeks, I will just be taking liquid, they will turn pap to water. I found out that the mouth ulcer I had was as a result of the chemotherapy because I wasn’t using water and salt immediately.
In our foundation, that is SEGUNFUNMI CANCER SUPPORT FOUNDATION, we tell people that early detection and treatment saves live.
In the course of doing this foundation, I found out that people who detected early will run away to go and meet one Baba and when the whole thing boomerang, they will come back and that time, maybe they are already in stage four. Meanwhile, they were diagnosed at stage one, stage two, they will disappear and the thing will now turn to stage four at that Baba’s place. The remedy for stage four is only God that can do it. We go out to talk to people about early detection and treatment, do the right thing at the right time. This is the food and drinks for now. Exercise your body and let sugar be out of your life.
How do you reach out to your audience?
Mostly I go to the hospitals. I have a relationship with the hospitals, I know most of the clinic days because I have been through the process and I am a survival.
Do you receive support from private individuals and government?
Our registration is in progress, we cannot start asking for support. Once our registration is through and we have an account for the foundation, we can start asking for support but we have been receiving support from families and friends. Those who know the course we are fighting have been helping in their little way.
Let’s talk about SEGUNFUNMI FOODS NIGERIA LIMITED?
SEGUNFUNMI FOODS NIGERIA LIMITED was born out of my pain to survive, to stay alive and stay afloat. At SEGUNFUNMI FOODS NIGERIA LIMITED, our foods are purely natural, no chemical, no addictive added. Most of our foods are natural and can be easily taken. We process our foods into powder form to make them edible. For example, our turmeric, we do it from fresh to the table size.
Our slogan is from farm to packaged food
Most of our products are fresh farm products made into packaged foods. NAFDAC just certified our Corn Silk Tea which is very good for anti-cancer, kidney problems. We have our Hibiscus Tea which is what people call Zobo but ours is already in a tea bag form. Just add water (cold or hot) and sweeten it whichever way you want. Our Hibiscus tea already have ginger, pineapple with the Zobo leaf. NAFDAC just gave us Granola. Our Granola is honey based without sugar in it and it is very edible and contains high fiber, very good. It is a very natural food that can be used with milk, yogurt and taken raw. We have cinnamon powder, we have different brand of tea, Cinnamon pineapple tea, for people who needs to have a clean immune system. Most of our tea are immune booster. We have ginger pineapple tea, turmeric ginger lemon tea, black seed tea (in powder and tea form). Pure lemon tea, very good too. We don’t do cancer products here.
Our products are for people that want to have a good lifestyle, boost their immune system. They are not for everybody; our target market are people that want to make their health their priority. If you know you want to have a healthy living, SEGUNFUNMI FOODS NIGERIA LIMITED should come to your mind and we give it to you raw and in natural form. We don’t add addictive nor chemicals to our product.
I want people to patronize us, most of our products are in about fifteen supermarkets in Lagos because we are NAFDAC certified.
we are on website,
20, Quarry Road Ibara opposite Laderin house by savannah bus stop, Abeokuta, Ogun State.
0817 277 9828
0813 044 9293
My name is Mrs. Funmilola Agbayewa, founder of SEGUNFUNMI FOODS NIGERIA LIMITED, founder of SEGUNFUNMI CANCER SUPPORT FOUNDATION.. Thank you.