- The Head of strategy and execution at Metropolitan Life shares her story after finding out she had a brain tumour.
- The diagnosis changed her outlook on life. She is more grateful, stresses less, and focuses more on the things that matter.
- When it comes to being a leader and manager, she now leads with courage and is comfortable doing big things even with some fear or apprehension.
Women go through so much adversity. It is inspiring to hear how regardless of their challenges, they rise above their circumstances. Leabetswe Bomvana is one of these women. In 2019, her corporate career was soaring after starting a new job as the executive head of strategy and execution at Metropolitan Life.
Optimistic about making a mark in her new role, she was also looking forward to starting her MBA at Wits Business School when the unpredictable happened.
Leabetswe Bomvana. Image supplied by Msports Marketing
She started experiencing headaches on the left side of her head as well as ringing in her ears but attributed it to stress.
“The headaches did not subside, so I thought that it might be tetanus, so I went to see an ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat) specialist, who conducted a few tests but could not pick anything up initially. So I went to a regular physician, who tried to adjust my pain meds for the headaches and also could not find anything wrong following his own examinations."
In January 2020, she went for an MRI, and it was found that she had a tumour.
Surgery was not an option, so the only treatment available was stereotactic radiation therapy. While still reeling from the massive shock of this diagnosis, Leabetswe also tragically lost her mom to Covid-19 a few days later. Lea says the diagnosis forced her to tap into what she calls "the power of my tribe – the collective" to help her overcome the challenges.
She adds, "What got me through this very difficult time was acknowledging that I don't have the strength to do this on my own. I was going to need my husband, my two daughters, a helper around the house, and my boss, along with the prayers and support of my friends – I just had to acknowledge that I would need help and accept that help when it was offered because for so long, I had tried to do everything on my own."
Leabetswe has not let this diagnosis deter her. Instead, it has given her a new perspective on life.
"Now more than ever, I am grateful when I wake up in the morning. I don't stress about things I used to stress about before. I am also a lot more hopeful in approaching difficult tasks, and the diagnosis also helped me focus on the things that matter and will continue to matter in the future," she expresses.
This diagnosis has also changed how she leads and manages.
Leabetswe Bomvana was able to complete a Master's degree after her diagnosis and is looking forward to doing her PhD. Image supplied by Msports Marketing
"I do not try to convey this image of a perfect executive using business jargon, but [I] collaborate with my peers and colleagues using a more human language. I am also showing up more in courageous leadership since I am more comfortable doing big things even with some fear or apprehension about risks."
The tumour is responding positively to the radiation and is shrinking. "At my last session with the medical team, it had shrunk 60% from its original size."
She has completed her Master's degree in Business Administration, and she will be pursuing her PhD.
Information and images provided by M-Sports Marketing