Cancer makes life difficult for poor Vhembe family

Vhonani Netshifhefhe (42) of Tshikombani village has contracted a rare form cancer that has deformed her face over the past two years. Picture: Ndivhuwo Mukwevho/ Health-e .

It all started in 2016 when Vhonani Netshifhefhe (42) of Tshikombani village, outside Louis Trichard, developed a sinus infection which within few months developed into a tumour and later turned cancerous.

The married mother of three children has been in and out of the hospitals in the province since then, trying desperately to get the help she needs to reclaim her life.

The condition has left Netshifhefhe completely helpless and unable to take care of her herself and her children.  As a result of the condition, her face is now completely deformed.

Netshifhefhe during happier times. Picture: Ndivhuwo Mukwevho/ Health-e .

Her concerned husband, Ralph Rabada said: “We are traumatised as a family because it seems like there is nothing we can do to help my beloved wife. There is nothing which the hospitals are helping her with, and she is in constant pain. We have been to various hospitals in the province but it seems like no one knows what needs to be done to help my wife.”

‘Completely deformed’

Netshifhefhe’s face has completely deformed to the extent that people who last saw her more than two years ago can hardly recognise her now. She travels to Polokwane Provincial Hospital twice a month for chemotherapy, which costs the family a lot as they have to travel with her using public transport. Tests have confirmed that the cancer has already spread to her head. Rabada, who is self-employed, said it is hard for him to take care of their children on his own as he spends a lot of time at work.

“The situation is negatively affecting us as a family because even our children do not understand what it is happening to their mom. Her face changes each day. At the hospitals we have been, her sickness has been diagnosed. But it seems like they do not have any medication to help her. They keep on promising that she will be helped but her condition is getting worse each day”, said Rabada.

Netshifhefhe was supposed to have been operated on last year, but her date was postponed and she is still waiting for a new date to be confirmed.

“We have lost hope in the public healthcare but pity we do not have any means to take her to the specialists in the private hospitals.”

The spokesperson for the MEC of Health, Thabiso Teffo said that the department will look into how they can help Netshifhefhe access the treatment she desperately needs.

“We will work closely with our district office to see how we can help her and the family”, said Teffo.

An edited version of this story was published by Health24.


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