Kids with cancer

By Drum Digital
08 October 2015

Four brave children share their tactics against cancer – from writing poetry to playing the guitar.

Zizipho Malinge Mlungisi, Queenstown Zizipho was told she had kidney cancer when she was only five years old. Now 22, she’s been in remission for 17 years. “I was hurt and confused because I was so small and I didn’t know what was going on. I was scared I was going to die, but my mom said I’d live. My brother and three sisters made me feel special – like a rock star! – every time they came to visit me in hospital. Those visits made me forget I was sick and made me feel loved,” she recalls.

'There’s more to life than being sad'

Her message? “There’s more to life than being sad. Talking about it lets you be joyful again and helps others understand what you’re going through.”

Arno Bouwer

Krugersdorp

Arno Bouwer found out that he had a cancerous tumour deep in his brain when he was 16. He sat next to his mother, Anita, while the doctor explained what the scans had revealed. He’d later say, “At first I thought this sounds quite rough but I suppose there are things such as doctors and stuff for a reason. I don’t think we realised how serious it was – that this was brain cancer.”

Arno’s tumour was rare and they could find only 11 case studies worldwide. He needed a major operation, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and there were no guarantees. He took it on with his trademark good humour, and his guitar. The guitar became a barometer of how he was doing. “On the days that we heard him playing his guitar we knew he was feeling okay,” his mom says.

Today he’s healthy, finishing matric and has his mind set on university. He laughs about coming out of this with better hair, curls having replaced his straighter hair since growing back after chemo. His “makeover” was even his selling point when running for student council at school!

Sibongile Mkhwanazi

Bloemfontein

Sibongile was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2011 and took it very hard. She was only 14 at the time but tried to commit suicide twice, lost a kidney to attempted overdoses and spent six months in hospital. “The doctors told me it wasn’t going to be easy and I lost hope – I wanted to die before it got worse. But supportive people convinced me I wasn’t dying just yet and I started living more positively and writing poetry. One of my doctors noticed my talent and got my work published. My book is called The Journey Of A Cancer Survivor and it’s given me a lot of confidence,” she says.

Now under the guardianship of the charitable Chief Leeuw Foundation that focuses on community projects and health, Sibongile is doing well and has become an ambassador for the Sunflower Fund, which recruits bone marrow stem-cell donors.

Kamogelo Matlhoromela

Dube, Soweto

Kamogelo (17) and his father, Tshepo, are big soccer fans – Pirates men – and it was shortly after South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010 when they first noticed the headaches.

“Kamogelo had started smoking, as teenagers do, and I thought maybe it was that, or he’d bumped his head playing soccer. But he kept feeling unwell so we took him to hospital. Scans revealed a cancerous brain tumour,” Tshepo says.

“It was difficult to handle and hard to know you just have to accept it. I loved playing soccer – I’m a goalie – but now I can’t play. The tumour started affecting my movement so I had to have an operation,” Kamogelo says.

Doctors weren’t able to remove the tumour completely but Kamogelo has had radiotherapy and chemotherapy, so the family are hopeful of a strong recovery.

CHILDHOOD CANCER ORGANISATIONS

Childhood Cancer Foundation South Africa (CHOC)

0861-113-500

www.choc.org.za

Reach for a Dream 011-880-1740 www.reachforadream.org.za Make sure right now that you and your children have the necessary cover. Click here for information on the All Woman policy from 1Life or SMS “woman” to 42711 and 1Life will call you back.

Disclaimer

The views and experiences expressed by the individuals featured in these personal accounts are in no way intended as an endorsement of any product or service – commercial, retail or otherwise.

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