Gauteng mom’s devastation as son born after unbearable heartache fights cancer

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Lindokuhle Makhubo was diagnosed with cancer last December. (PHOTO: Supplied)
Lindokuhle Makhubo was diagnosed with cancer last December. (PHOTO: Supplied)

He was her miracle child, the little boy born after she lost her first two children. Now Mbalenhle Makhubo is in the midst of another nightmare: her precious son, Lindokuhle, has a rare form of childhood cancer and it’s taking all her strength to stay positive for the two-year-old. 

It started a year ago when the little boy started crying uncontrollably and flinching whenever she touched his right leg. 

READ MORE | Our brave baby is finally home after four months in hospital fighting cancer

Mbalenhle (27), a single mom from Daveyton, Gauteng, noticed a lump and, thinking he might have bumped himself or fallen over, she tried rubbing home remedies onto the affected area.

But nothing worked and so she took him to two clinics in her area – but each time, she was told the same thing: it’s probably nothing. She was sent home with painkillers for the child, but something did not sit right with her.

cancer, tumour, mrt
The little boy is his mother's miracle baby. (PHOTO: Supplied)

“Whenever I touched the back of his thigh I could feel the lump was growing.”

In December she visited her aunt in Soweto and spoke about how worried she was about Lindokuhle. Her aunt suggested she take him to a clinic in Soweto and a scan revealed the unthinkable: Lindokuhle had a tumour in his leg.   

He was transferred to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, where an emergency operation was performed to remove the tumour. Tests revealed he had a stage 3 extrarenal malignant rhabdoid tumour. 

Mbalenhle was devastated and battled to process the news. It finally dawned on the unemployed mom that her son was in a race for his life when doctors told her he needed chemotherapy to try to kill the remaining cancer cells.

“Until I heard he needed chemo I didn’t believe it was real,” she says. “I thought doctors would change their diagnosis.” 

Lindokuhle started chemo in January but it didn’t work – by February his tumour had begun to grow again. Doctors told her if the chemo continued to fail, his leg might need to be amputated.  

For Mbalenhle, it was all too much. Being a mother was all she ever wanted and Lindokuhle had brought her so much happiness after so much tragedy. 

“My first child died of an asthma attack when she was seven months old,” she says. “I fell pregnant again later but I lost the baby when I was seven months pregnant.”

So it’s easy to imagine Mbalenhle’s joy when Lindokuhle came along. “I was so happy to hold him in my arms. I even cried at the hospital because I was so happy that I had a child.” 

And now this. Mbalenhle can’t bear the thought of her son losing his leg and is praying chemo will work. Her son is struggling, she says, and his development has reverted. 

“It’s like he’s gone back to being a baby. He went back to wearing nappies, he stopped standing and walking. He doesn’t speak as much as he used to. Sometimes I don’t understand what he is saying.” 

cancer, tumour
His mother hopes to see him playing and running around with other kids. (PHOTO: Supplied)

There has been some progress, she adds. The swelling on his leg has gone down and he can put weight on both feet again. His mother also encourages him to walk by holding his hands and leading him and he enjoys it when she tickles his feet. 

The little boy is due for a scan soon to check on the progress of the treatment.

As Childhood Cancer Awareness Month ends, Mbalenhle offers advice to other parents who may be in a similar situation. 

READ MORE | My baby could have lost his eye if I didn’t push for answers

“Never lose hope and ask for a second doctor’s [opinion] before making a decision and/or signing any papers.” 

cancer, mom
Mbalenhle spent years praying for Lindokuhle and she was happy when she first held him in her arms. (PHOTO: Supplied)

She is hopeful that her son, who loves Spider-Man, will beat cancer and his story will inspire other families going through tough times. 

“I would love to see him playing with other kids,” she says. “I’d love to see him running around, playing soccer. But most of all I want to watch him growing old.”


Extrarenal malignant rhabdoid tumours are a rare form of cancer that most commonly occur in children under the age of five. Tumours are usually found in the kidney and brain but can develop in the soft tissue in other parts of the body. These tumours are aggressive and usually reoccur in 50% of patients. Treatment is surgery, chemo and radiation. 


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