Matric results were in and her friends were ecstatic, filled with dreams of attending varsity. For Zulu, what should have been a happy milestone quickly turned terrifying when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The diagnosis sidelined her hopes of attending varsity – but not for long.
“When my friends were out experiencing varsity life, I spent what was supposed to be my first year at university in hospital getting chemotherapy,” she tells OurHealth. “It was the toughest challenge I’ve had to deal with.”
When chemotherapy successfully treated her cancer, Zulu vowed to try and motivate other women with breast cancer.
Now a third-year medical student at the University of the Free State, Zulu visits Bloemfontein’s National Hospital on Mondays and Fridays to speak cancer patients and give them the hope she struggled to maintain during her own illness.
“Looking in the mirror was unpleasant (and) I couldn’t handle seeing my hair falling out,” she remembers. “I felt like I could already see my grave.”
Lindiwe Langa is a nurse at National Hospital’s Oncology Unit. She says Zulu’s visits earn her high praise among the patients.
“Cebile touches the lives of many cancer patients (and) we see it in the patients’ smiles after every motivational session,” she told OurHealth. “Most patients approach management and other employees with gratitude, applauding her great work.”
Zulu is working on a book she’s called Life After Cancer that she hopes to publish one day.