Maritzburgers shine for Miso

2017-04-27 12:39
Vicky Khoza (left), her son Miso and daughter Amanda, are backdropped by a crowd of pupils supporting Miso during Pelham Senior Primary’s Shine fundraiser to raise money for Miso’s medical bills.

Vicky Khoza (left), her son Miso and daughter Amanda, are backdropped by a crowd of pupils supporting Miso during Pelham Senior Primary’s Shine fundraiser to raise money for Miso’s medical bills. (Ian Carbutt)

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Hundreds of people covered in tinsel and glitter gathered to raise funds on Wednesday for a young Pietermaritzburg pupil who has been fighting cancer for four years.

With gold tinsel headbands, and glitter smeared across their faces, local people and pupils from various Pietermaritzburg schools gathered at Pelham Senior Primary on Wednesday to support 17-year-old Miso Khoza.

Dressed in all black with gold chains around his neck, one would not be able to tell that Miso, a top-performing pupil at Maritzburg College, has been in and out of hospital with countless chemotherapy and radiation treatments since the age of 13.

Surrounded by his mom, Vicky Khoza and two sisters, Amanda and Ntobeko Khoza, Miso, a former Pelham Primary pupil, was the star of Wednesday’s fund­raiser, with pupils, teachers, parents and locals all offering support and monetary donations for his ongoing cancer treatments.

Vicky said on Wednesday that it had been a normal Monday in May, 2013, when she dropped Miso off at school only to receive a call minutes later, telling her she should fetch her son.

“When I walked into the office, he was crying and said there was a sharp pain in his chest,” said Vicky.

Vicky rushed him to the doctor, who referred him to St Anne’s Hospital.

After multiple scans and several days in hospital, the doctors told the family that Miso had a growth on the left side of his chest.

Miso was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which occurs in the bone and appears typically in children and young adults.

As a single mother with three children, balancing school fees, medical aid, additional hospital bills and the trauma of discovering her son had cancer, Vicky did everything she could to get Miso the treatment he needed.

In 2014, Miso had a major operation where doctors removed two of his ribs that the tumour was growing on.

After the operation, Miso went into remission, however, the growth reappeared in the same area in August 2015.

In February 2016 the tumour was gone and he was back in remission until January this year.

“It hit us all really hard,” said Vicky.

“He had been in remission for less than a year and the tumour was back.”

Vicky said the doctor had told the family to prepare themselves as the recurring tumour could be a lifelong issue.

“We all drove back home in silence. I was crying,” said Vicky.

“Formerly, we had been celebrating. We were winning the war and then it came back.”

Then Vicky was contacted by twins Cindy van Rensburg and Mandy Upton who had been following Miso on his journey from the start in 2013.

“We had known the family since Miso was diagnosed and took to him from the word go,” said Van Rensburg.

“When we heard the tumour had come back a third time, we put our heads together and started a fundraiser, to raise funds for Miso’s medical bills and raise awareness surrounding cancer.”

Vicky said Van Rensberg and Upton had been a great comfort to the family, calling them “lovely angels”.

She said the past four years had been extremely difficult and there had been times when she had watched a sleeping Miso, worried that he might be dead as he was not moving.

“The support and the love we have received has been so heartwarming,” said Vicky.

“We all feel so loved and cared for by people who do not even know us and we are so grateful for their kindness.”

A cool, calm and collected Miso addressed pupils of his former primary school, his witty sense of humour leaving many in awe of the young man suffering from such a life-changing illness.

Miso told The Witness that cancer did not have any power over him and that he knew from the moment he was diagnosed with it that he would survive.

“The support has been amazing and I don’t think I would have coped as well as I have if it weren’t for all the support,” he said.

“Tears do not heal and being sad does not get you anywhere. I am only looking forward,” he said.

He said the diagnosis had pulled him down, but he had now come to a point where he knew he had to “pull my socks up and get my life together”.

Miso said he was looking forward to the future and what it held and said he wanted to be a professional actor.

Pelham principal Lorrel Wissing said Miso was a shining example to the pupils.

“It is easy to shine when things are going your way, but it is truly incredible to shine when they aren’t and Miso has shown all of us this.”

CANSA can help speed up treatment

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) national advocacy co-ordinator Lorraine Govender said adults or parents of children suffering with cancer could call the organisation for assistance in trying to speed up the treatment process.

She said those who could not afford treatment at private hospitals and clinics could contact CANSA, which would then call a hospital and doctors and find out what the delays for treatment were and if the process could be sped up.

She said the organisation also called doctors to see if patients could be treated at another hospital.

She said organisations such as the Childhood Cancer Foundation (Choc) could also assist in terms of trying to speed up delays.

Govender said CANSA and Choc were there to help where they could as many people do not know what to do once they have been diagnosed and are on a long waiting list for treatment.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  cancer fundraising

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