RealLives: Woman’s fierce battle against the big C
As the world unites to fight against cancer on February the 4th, under the theme; ‘Together it is possible’ a Digawana woman battling the killer disease is appealing for help.
Kebareng Tlagae, 51,who suffers from oral cancer has gone from a healthy looking woman to a skeletal shadow of her former self in a short seven months.
After undergoing a series of extensive surgeries to the mouth and jaw, which caused serious damages to her lips and jaw sometime last year, Tlagae was confined to home-based care to wait her final moment or a miracle.
She is believing for the latter. Although she no longer eats solids and only survives on milk and water administered into her throat through a medical dispenser the brave mother of five is determined to fight to the bitter end.
Hoping for divine intervention, she requested for her story to be published in a public appeal for anyone with divine powers to come to her rescue.
“I know that there are spiritual healers out there who can help me. I want to be able to smile again. I want this disease to go away,” Kebareng said with great difficulty.
Her family is not willing to give up either. Her daughter, Shurdic Tlagae, maintained that her mother could find a divine cure.
She said: “It takes faith for a miracle to happen. We all believe that a spiritual intervention can deliver her from all this pain, so we are appealing for prayers from those who can believe with us and pray with us for God to intervene and heal our mother.”
Shurdic, 21, however lamented the fact that her mother’s cancer was a case of late detection, which is not uncommon with cancer.
“The hospital just operated on the growth without checking for possible oral cancer. It was after the second operation that we asked the doctors to check whether she did not have cancer,” Shurdic said.
She said the family raised cancer suspicions because her grandmother (Kebareng’s mother) was a cervical cancer survivor and her uncle died from breast cancer.
“My grandmother was lucky hers was discovered earlier and she had a successful operation. That was in the late 80’s and up to today, it never recurred,” Shurdic stated.
The 79-year- old grandmother, Mmannibijara Sebopelo said she had lived for many years with the fear that one of her nine children could be at risk and encouraged them to look out for early signs of breast cancer and cervical cancer but she did not know that the disease could attack the mouth as well.
“I never knew about cancer of the mouth until my daughter was diagnosed with it. Cancer has many unpleasant surprises! Who would have known that men could die from breast cancer? But my brother succumbed to it. I am surprised because in health facilities the emphasis is on women to be on alert, yet we are all at risk,” Sebopelo noted.
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths) in 2008 with the low and middle-income countries as the highly affected. Statistics from the Ministry of health suggests that Botswana recorded 13000 cases between 1998 and 2010 and about 3000 deaths, some of which are HIV related.
Meanwhile Cancer Association of Botswana (CAAB) will today (Friday) commemorate World Cancer which is being held under the theme “Cancer can be prevented too: Together it is possible.”
The commemoration will start with a short walk from CAAB offices to the Presidents Hotet at Main Mall where a brief programme will be followed, ending with the lighting of candles as a symbol of hope and remembrance to those that lost their lives due to cancer.
What is Oral Cancer?
Oral Cancer is part of a group of cancers that occur in the area of head and neck. It develops in any part of the mouth, and throat.
When oral cancer spreads it usually travels through lymphatic system.
A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease.
Tobacco is one of the common risk factor for oral cancer, that is, smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes, using chewing tobacco and snuff. The risk is even higher for tobacco user who drinks alcohol heavily.
Alcohol: The risk increases if the person both drinks alcohol and uses tobacco
Sun: Cancer of the lip can be caused by exposure to the sun. The risk factor increases if the person also smokes.
History: People with history of head and neck cancer are at high risk of developing another primary head and neck cancer.
A sore on your lip or in your mouth that wont heal, Bleeding in your mouth, Loosing teeth, difficulty or pain when swallowing, difficulty wearing dentures, a lump in your neck and earache
Surgery: Removing the tumor in the mouth or throat.
Chemotherapy: Uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells.
Radiation: It kills cancer cells and shrinks the tumor.
Source: Bontle Modige of Cancer Association of Botswana