Mbedzi says her mother passed just in late August – just days after the country’s celebrated Women’s Day – and as she seemed to be coping with breast cancer.
“She had been living with cancer for 12 years,” Mbedzi told OurHealth. “She was looking like she was coping with it and reacting very well to her treatment, but it was never fine.”
“She was the only person who I could really depend on,” said Mbedzi, who added that she now faced with the reality of taking care of her younger siblings and holding down a job. “I feel like the world has turned against me.”
“I’ve asked God to give me all the strength that I will need to get through this as it was his will,” she said. “It’s sad to loose someone you love, but when they are gone you just have to accept it and move on.”
In October, South Africa marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the second most prevalent form of cancer among South African women and one in 35 women will be diagnosed with the cancer in their lifetime, according to the Cancer Association of South Africa. CANSA recommends that women check their breasts for lumps monthly and go for regular check ups by health workers. Women 40 years and older should also go for x-rays, or mammograms, to check their breasts for cancer every three years.
The advocacy organisation also offers breast exams through care centres nationwide.
Elisa Netshisaulu is a health worker at the Vhembe District’s Matavhela Clinic, where Mbedzi’s mother received treatment. She offered her condolences to the family and urged patients to go for regular screenings to catch cancers early. She also added that cancer patients should not lose hope after being diagnosed and that treatment is available.