Being diagnosed with cancer is a big shock but it is not the end of the world.
Cancer survivors put that message across on Saturday October 22 when they were given a platform to highlight the disease which affects the lives of so many people.
WPT Ndibongo Memorial Congregation lit candles for cancer survivors and praised their bravery for facing the disease head-on.
The congregation’s women’s wing, Ikhaya Lethemba organises workshops and sessions for people to speak out about any disease, including cancer.
Ikhaya Lethemba said the country was hit hard by the disease.
They organised the candle-lighting ceremony in partnership with other cancer awareness groups to encourage people to not be scared and to speak about their experiences.
Some of those in attendance could barely hold back tears when listening to the stories on Saturday.
They said similar awareness-raising events should be organised in all churches.
Organiser Nonkululeko August said the church was overwhelmed by the survivors’ stories.
“We know that cancer is a quiet but very dangerous disease. As a congregation, we formed Ikhaya Lethemba to give hope to the survivors and those who have it. We are grateful to the survivors for coming out and speaking out. This is the only way that we can beat cancer, by speaking about it. We know years back it was taboo to talk about the disease. It is for that reason that we call all the relevant people and their organisations to come and speak out,” she said.
She said some survivors are scared to open up. She urged them to impart with the knowledge they have garnered from their experience so they can help others.
Ms August made a call to people to take care of their health.
“We ought to know our status. People need not to be scared. It helps when it is detected early,” she said.
Cancers survivors who were present welcomed the church’s initiative. The survivors had suffered from various forms of cancer such as cervical, breast and lung cancer.
Breast cancer survivor Zandi Bryant said she was delighted to be given a chance to speak about her experience. She said her cancer had spread fast . But she said she was happy to be alive.
“It is true that having cancer is not the end of the world. It needs us to be strong and to follow the doctor’s rules. I would urge all those who are survivors to join (support) groups,” she said.
Hope Cabadiya, who is a cervical cancer survivor, urged women to ask questions about their bodies. She said when they notice unfamiliar things happening they should go to the doctor or clinic and get it checked out.
She said when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, doctors told her she had three months to live. “I am not a clinic or a doctor person. I just do not like going there. But I was forced to consult when I bled for 12 days non-stop.”
“Thank God I am still here even today,” she said.
Ms Cabadiyo admitted that the disease can hide itself and can be dangerous.
“When they told me I have three months to live I was a bit scared but I told them I have hope. I went through chemotheraphy and radiation with hope and here am I after so many years,” she said.
But she said she was not that lucky because her mom died of the same disease. She still advised people to have hope in whatever they are going through.
Lung cancer survivor Lungile Rhorho urged male survivors to come forward and share their experiences. Mr Rhorho said men are often scared to speak about such diseases.
People who want to join a cancer survivors’ group can call Zandi Bryant on 083 377 1102.