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How a Limpopo woman went from being a security guard to an oncology nurse

Profile: Oncology nurse in Limpopo
Written by Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Working as a security guard, Tahulela Patient Lehaha saved up enough to pursue her passion for nursing. Today, she specialises in oncology, using her role to raise awareness about cancer.

While working as a security guard, Tahulela Patient Lehaha used to watch with envy as nurses in uniform walked by. Falling in love with the profession, they inspired her to save money from her security job to pay for nursing school. Now, Lehaha is a professional nurse too, but she didn’t stop there.

“Today I am proud to be one of the nurses working during the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Lehaha. Currently stationed at Polokwane provincial hospital, the 37-year-old says the burning desire to help others drove her to study nursing.

A professional nurse for eleven years, Lehaha wants more. Two years ago she qualified as an oncology nurse, earning a B-tech in Oncology from Tshwane University of Technology.

Profile: Oncology nurse in Limpopo

Now Lehaha shows off her nurse’s uniform with pride. (Supplied)

Pursuing passion

Born and raised in rural Gogobole Village in Limpopo’s Vhembe district, Lehaha says they had limited exposure to various career opportunities. She hopes young people will draw inspiration from her life experiences and know that with perseverance and determination dreams do come true.

“Young people need to know that with passion they can become anything they want in life. Our current situations do not define our destinations and it is something which I always preach to the youth,” says Lehaha.

Lehaha says her passion for nursing helps her negotiate the challenges of the role.

“What I love most about my work is that everyday has its own challenges. Being an oncology nurse requires one to be well-prepared and ready to face any challenge you might come across at work. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my patients being well and back on their feet and ready to take on the world again,” she says.

Raising awareness about cancer

Lehaha at times has to play the role of counsellor to her patients diagnosed with cancer.

“Over the years I have worked as a nurse I have learnt that most people fear being diagnosed with cancer and some take time to accept the diagnosis. But I normally sit them down and tell them that cancer is just like any other disease and the only difference is on the way it’s treated,” says Lehaha.

Profile: Oncology nurse in Limpopo

Lehaha uses her role to raise awareness about cancer. (Supplied)

October is breast cancer awareness month and Lehaha still worries that people do not go for regular screening. An early diagnosis can save lives, she reminds patients. Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women, with 2.1 million women affected, according to the World Health Organisation.

“As we are celebrating breast cancer awareness month, I urge all men and women to check their breasts for any lumps. And, if they do not know how to do it themselves to ask health professionals to screen them,” she says. — Health-e News

About the author

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho is citizen journalist who is based in the Vhembe District of Limpopo province. He joined OurHealth in 2015 and his interests lie in investigative journalism and reporting the untold stories of disadvantaged rural communities. Ndivhuwo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Venda and he is currently a registered student with UNISA.