‘My wife’s battle with cancer taught me a lesson’

2015-10-28 06:00
Nceba and Kennethia Dladla talk about her battle with breast cancer.
 photo: WERNER HILLS

Nceba and Kennethia Dladla talk about her battle with breast cancer. photo: WERNER HILLS

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ON the couch in their home in Westering - right next to the picture of his and his wife’s graduation - Nceba Dladla (48) takes a seat. His wife, Kennethia (47), is talking about her battle with breast cancer, and he is listening with his eyes closed.

“I was diagnosed exactly a year ago - in October,” she said.

“The chemotherapy was the worst for me - besides the fact that I had to rely heavily on the support of my husband and children to take over my duties as housewife.”

Kennethia had her own catering business. When her battle with cancer began Kennethia had to give up her work.

Nceba, a newspaper reporter and a priest of the African Catholic Church in Motherwell, soon learnt how to be a father, mother and the only breadwinner, as well as an expert on cancer for his family.

With their youngest two children, Azi (19) and Zipho (15), still in the house, he had to attend some parent meetings alone and iron school uniforms.

“My wife’s struggle taught me a great lesson: There is not a rule in life saying certain duties belonged to a man and the rest to a woman,” he said. “When she called me aside after work that day in October to tell me she had breast cancer, my world came to a halt for a moment. Thoughts of death; how I was going to raise our children alone and how I would ever survive without her, washed over me.

“But I quickly realized that her illness was simply the biggest life lesson the Dladlas would ever learn.”

Kennethia lost her left breast, but to her husband she remains the beautiful woman whom he met 25 years ago.

“Do not for one moment think that the past year has not taken its toll in our marriage. She felt ugly and useless at times, even wondered if I was attracted to her. Little did she know that love is about more than just the body.

“Our bodies are in any case only loaned to us.”

In July she underwent the last radiology and is currently receiving hormone treatment. “Her Xhosa name is Nosithembele, meaning ‘someone you can trust’,” said Nceba.

“She is strong, and we can definitely trust her. Some days she was so devastated by her illness, but she dragged herself out of bed, trying just to be able to mean something to us. Other times she was so incomprehensible, as women sometimes are, but worse. But at that time I really got to know my wife as a fully-fledged woman.

“Women are vulnerable, but the strongest beings in God’s creation.”

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