Libraries join cancer fight

The community of Khayelitsha with a cancer awareness ribbon.

Three libraries, Kuyasa, Masakhane and Kulani partnered to raise awareness and educate people about cancer.

People were urged and encouraged to take a pledge to fight cancer. The awareness-raising day at Kuyasa library on Wednesday October 25 was focused on breast cancer prevention, risk-reducing behaviour and early detection. A handful of people and members of a seniors’ club turned up for the event at the library.

Those who gathered shared their stories to encourage those battling the disease.

Thuletu Mlumbi-Javu, the librarian at Kuyasa library, said hearing some of the painful stories had been sad but inspiring. She said it was good to see people coming out with stories about themselves and those of family members.

“October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we were trying to raise awareness among people and educate them about cancer. We want them to, for example, know the causes, signs, symptoms, eating styles and other forms of cancer,” she said.

She emphasised that people need to be educated about cancer and said more campaigns need to be done as cancer is the main threat to the society. She encourage people to better their lives by staying positive and knowledgeable about the symptoms of cancer.

She applauded those who shared their stories and encouraged people to go for check-ups and steer clear of health hazards.

Among those who encouraged and urged others to remain positive was Wiseman Mbonwa who was mistakenly diagnosed with cancer.

It was nearly 18 years ago when doctors told Mr Mbonwa he had “a few months to live”. But he said through faith he always believed he would be healed.

In the midst of uncertainty from the medical professionals about his condition, Mr Mbonwa stopped going to the doctors and relied on his positive thinking and faith that he would be okay.

It is now 18 years and Mr Mbonwa is still alive and kicking. He is adamant that he would live for many more happy years.

However, Mr Mbonwa urged anyone diagnosed with cancer to obey their doctors’ orders.

Motivating cancer survivors and the community of Khayelitsha Mr Mbonwa said: “It was the worst time of my live. I stopped believing in doctors but live solely through faith. I believed I was not going to die soon. In fact, I still have more years to live. With God next to me I might make 100 years and more. But I urge those diagnosed with cancer to stay on the doctor’s orders. Attend chemotherapy and other doctor’s orders,” he said. “Do not be like me. You might not be like me.”

He urged those with cancer to stay positive and follow treatment. He said cancer is no difference to other illnesses and can be beaten too.

However, he admitted that he did live through some terrible years. He said being given a gift of death by people you trust is hard and no joke. “I was really worried because I was just told I had nothing to live for. But God was wonderful to me. I had to brave the threat and live on. That is why I am of the belief that cancer is but nothing. That is why I would stand and encourage cancer sufferers to get up, treat it and live a better life. Live your life with a positive attitude and God will add more years to you. This cancer should be dealt with with positivity,” he said.

But Joseph Khephe’s family was not as lucky as Mr Mbonwa. His sister was taken to traditional healers first. When she was finally taken to the doctors, it was discovered that her cancer was at the last stages. She died of cancer.

“Family members thought she was bewitched. We were not aware about cancer at all. I still believe had she been taken to the doctors and diagnosed early, she would still be alive today. I also have hope that all those who are affected will be okay. I am one of those who believe that cancer can be beaten,” he said.

Mr Khephe appealed to people to get knowledge of their illnesses. He said what he has learned about cancer is that it can hide itself.

Library staff said they will be hosting more awarenesses campaigns together.