By: Candice Morrow
You hear people talk about how short life is and how the quality of life has dipped but you never feel the need to change yours until it happens to you. You’re young, beautiful, ambitious and your parents are so proud because your life is finally coming together. You’re blossoming into a beauty Queen who knows that true beauty comes from within; hey you’re the guy who plays for the A-team and is dating the girl of your dreams. Then life.
I have been touched by the growing number of young people diagnosed with terminal illnesses.
Meet Phumeza Amahle Scwebu, a 17 year old girl from Protea in Johannesburg. She’s in grade 11 like most of her peers except she had to repeat the class this year because she spent most of 2014 in and out of hospital. She’s full of dreams and plans for her future and like every teen today is crazy about gadgets and music. In fact she’s a talented young lady with a beautiful voice that could be one of the many voices that make us proud of our local musicians but she is afraid to perform for a crowd because she fears being judged. Phumeza has distanced herself socially because she believes that many people do not want to be friends with sick people since she has lost many friends after she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
This young woman is a young person just like any other and she is not alone in this battle. I recently met a 21 year old lady who was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer a year ago and it has been no joy ride, another friend diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and two women in my close circle of friends who have has total abdominal hysterectomies due to Cervical cancer to share a few. Oh and I have an elderly friend whose wife has been hospitalised and will be indefinitely and has been given a few months to live due to colon cancer. You ask yourself, what did they do or didn’t do, did they eat well, exercise, are they being punished, are the sins of their father’s being visited on them? Answer is, they did absolutely nothing to deserve to battle terminal disease because all they did was live. Cancer is an abnormal growth of cells which become malignant and there are over a hundred types that could manifest on any part of the body. You too may know someone affected by cancer. There are stereotypes still doing the rounds like cancer is an old people’s disease, cancer is a result of unhealthy living and many others but truth is, Cancer is real and none of us are exempt. What are you going to do about your body?
Phumeza commenced her chemotherapy last month and still has to skip days of school but that does not deter her from living the life she wants to live. She dreams of becoming a lawyer one day and working in the military which will take more than just guts but mental and emotional maturity too. Today she suffers with asthma and has epileptic fits because of the tumour pressing on her brain. She says that she is forever feeling weak and gets tired a lot so she doesn’t do most of the things she would like to be doing or go to most hang outs because this makes her self-conscious and has caused her to develop a low self-esteem. It’s an emotional tug of war for the young lady with the weight of changes she goes through raising fears of many forms but the support she’s been getting from the few friends and family has been her strength and has helped her build enough courage to believe that she will beat it.
While we go on about our business day in and day out someone close to you is being newly diagnosed with cancer, their lives are being altered and your life is about to change. Getting oneself screened for cancer and doing regular checks for breast lumps puts you at an advantage, a change of diet and a few lifestyle changes may reduce your chances of developing cancer. When asked about what inspires her Phumeza says, “The realisation that every individual has boundless potential and unless and until the effort grows into grooming, refining and sharpening those skills it would all go to waste”
She’s seventeen, beautiful and has a melodic voice coupled with intelligence, she could be anybody. She could be your sister, your friend, she could be you. The question is what are you going to do about your body because it could happen to any body?