When Raynolda Makhutle from Smithfield was dignosed with cancer at the age of 40, she had to fight more than just the disease. In an exclusive interview with Dumelang News, she said her late diagnosis, the result of changing doctors as her regular practitioner had never suggested a pap smear, left Makhutle angry and frustrated. After undergoing surgery to remove the cancer, she discovered three months later that she had tumours on both her ovaries. The decision to have a hysterectomy saved her life, but Makhutle was not prepared for what she would lose instead.
“In our culture, when you lose a womb you’re stigmatised that you are not not a complete woman,” she said. “My husband left me because he was scared” Overwhelmed by post-menopausal symptoms after surgery, depression, and the rising cost of medical bills, Makhutle almost gave up. Five years later, her mother was also diagnosed with cancer and soon passed away. It wasn’t just the disease killing people, but the misinformation about it. When she joined People Living with Cancer and Cancervive, Makhutle was surprised by the difference that support and understanding made her struggle.
“I realised that we need more people in black communities educating and providing support around this disease,” she said. Rather than dwelling on what she lost, this cancer survivor is now focusing on what she still has to give. As a member of Cansurvive, Makhutle travels around South Africa to provide the support that was initially denied to her. “Once a year we go to different provinces on motorbikes spreading the message of awareness, early detection and hope,” she said. As part of the team, Makhutle has reached over 31 000 people. “Cancer gave me a purpose, Today I celebrate life to the fullest,” she said. For those who have encounters like Makhutle’s and the Cancersurvive team, they now have the chance to do the same