SIHLE Mkondo was told she only had few months to live after doctors discovered that her breast cancer was aggressive.
The 52-year-old did not, however, take death as an option.
She was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in November 2017.
Metastatic cancer spreads from its site of origin to another part of the body. Sihle’s breast was removed immediately after diagnosis and she was ready for battle.
“When further tests were done after diagnosis, it was discovered that I had metastatic cancer. This meant the cancer was already stage 4,” says the mother-of-three.
“My organ was removed immediately, but the cancer had already spread to the spinal bones and lymphatic system. I needed treatment slightly elevated from the normal cancer treatment.”
Mkondo recalls how after the first cycle of chemotherapy, doctors discovered her immune system could not fight anymore.
She needed immune boosters before and after chemo sessions.
“This was another blow; the boosters were expensive. I was still determined to fight, hence, I reached out to well-wishers for support.
“They came through: I continued with my cycles of chemo.”
And this was only the beginning.
Mkondo says her resolve to fight heightened in 2018 when she was told she was only left with a few months to live.
This was after further tests revealed her cancer was too aggressive.
“Death was not an option. My children needed me. I had already had my organ removed.
I will do anything to live.
“I researched and found out about targeted cancer treatment. I decided to go for this treatment although I had been told it was expensive and way out my reach.
“My cancer journey has mainly been supported by well-wishers. I’m not ashamed to take out my begging bowl when I am in need.”
The targeted treatment meant that she needed 20 sessions of chemotherapy from May 2018 to August 2019.
She only had 17.
“After those sessions, I was totally drained; emotionally and physically. I also had run out of funds. I decided I would end the targeted treatment with 17 sessions.”
Mkondo adds that Covid-19 brought with it unprecedented challenges not only for her, but for every cancer patient.
She believes while the pandemic wreaked havoc as the world went into total lockdown, cancer also progressed.
“Covid-19 brought so much pain. I believe most patients lost the battle during the enforced Covid-19 restrictions.
“I could not go for my regular check-ups due to lockdown despite being in Harare. Since the onset of the first lockdown in Zimbabwe, I could not get any medical check-ups.
“Imagine if this happened to me while I was in the capital, what of someone in places like Gokwe or Mberengwa who also needed to travel to Harare but could not because of lockdown.”
Mkondo bemoans the centralisation of cancer services, noting they were also inaccessible and unaffordable for many.
“If you have cancer, you have to travel to Harare to access services. Sadly, most of the equipment is broken down and this worsens our situation.
“Something has to be done to make cancer services accessible and affordable at least around the country’s provinces.”
Mkondo says while the globe focused on the latest pandemic, cancer and Covid-19 connived.
And cancer progressed.
“For months now, I have been having an acute back pain so I was told to have a scan done. I couldn’t afford the scan and a good doctor had the scan done.
“The scan revealed my spinal bone had been chewed by cancer. This is the reason I have been grappling with terrible back aches,” says Mkondo as she struggles to hold back her tears.
Following the recent diagnosis, the 52-year-old urgently requires protective surgery called Fusion.
The surgery costs approximately US$11 000.
“Doctors say this Fusion surgery is urgent, noting that I cannot have chemotherapy until this procedure is done.
“Now this requires a lot of money that I do not have. I want to live and take cancer head on. I can only do this through support. Help me live.”
To contribute towards Sihle Mkondo’s surgery contact:
Mirirai Nsingo (263776134099)
Andy Hodges (+263773491634)