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Two Incredible Tales From Cancer Survivors: CHOC - Childhood Cancer Foundation SA

By CHOC - Childhood Cancer Foundation SA

Picture : Dr. Nonkululeko Mthembu

In 1995 I was diagnosed with a germ cell tumour of the ovaries. I was 14 years old and it all felt like it was all a bad dream. Chemotherapy was tough but I was determined to live a normal life despite the cancer. I continued with school and my schoolmates were supportive and a little curious at times. After 6 months of chemo sessions and surgery, I was on the road to recovery.

I miraculously passed grade 9 and received an unexpected award at school for extraordinary academic performance, which still brings tears to my eyes.  After graduating from Wits University, I have gone on to become a qualified medical doctor.

I am currently completing my Fellowship in Public Health Medicine and working at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. There is life after cancer and I am grateful to the dedicated staff at CHOC for their commitment to the saving lives of children with cancer.

Picture: Zuki and Zoe Mukwevho

My life as a childhood cancer survivor and a mother Zuki Mukwevho.

On the 27th of July 1995 my whole life changed. I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia at the age of 12 years, knowing nothing about the disease called “cancer”. It was a long journey that I had to take not knowing what the end results would be. I was introduced to the treatment that would make me feel better, some of the horrible ones named Bone Marrow, Lumbar Puncture, Chemotherapy and tablets that all played their part in the process. It was not easy missing school, leaving my family and friends, but there was nothing I could do as I needed to be who I was before I got sick. I had all the support from my family and friends, managed to finish my 3 years treatment and went in remission for 18 months.

I don’t know whether it was fate or what? The same month, but just a different year (1999) I had a relapse. I was now diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia and Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia. I was very devastated at the thought of coming back to the hospital and getting treatment all over again. I started on a different treatment, but it was not 100% sure that the treatment would work. I had a few days to live, but by the grace of God a doctor from overseas visited our unit.

During the doctor’s rounds he came across my file and was told about my history. Fortunately there was a new drug called “GLEEVEC” coming to Johannesburg for a trial, but it was only for adults. I was then 17 years old – almost an adult. The drug worked wonders and through the journey I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl called Zoë. I never thought that one day I would be a mother and I am overwhelmed when holding the tiny baby in my hands, nurturing her, protecting her and loving her. My life has changed, but it’s okay, I have been able to take time to enjoy all the good that comes along with parenthood. She is my everything. I have always dreamt of having my own child, but with my condition I thought that I wouldn’t be able to have one, but God blessed me. Today I am a proud mother. Wherever I go, she is always with me.

My motto is: “Never forget to live your life to the fullest as you might never know what tomorrow brings for you”

For more information on CHOC please visit their website.


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