Guest blog: It is not about financial gain

Welcome to our second guest blog! Mpho, a patient who was treated successfully in our unit, came forward offering to write a guest piece for CARE. Mpho – thank you!

Cancer did not dampen her spirit: Mpho Radebe

Fund cancer research.

My name is Mpho Radebe, a 19 year old girl. A few years ago I met a stranger, I had heard of his existence but never thought our paths would cross. Upon our meeting I knew life would never be the same again, this was not something I could reverse. It was almost like I had just emerged into a new kind of ‘forever’, where all that was left for me to do was just to surrender to fate.

At the age of 15 I was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (cancer of the nasopharynx) I am currently in remission. At that point in my life I was as good as clueless about what cancer is and what it meant to be diagnosed with cancer. I went through the counselling process even then, it still did not ring a bell that I had just been diagnosed with a fatal disease. I think I was in denial.

It was until I received my first cycle of chemotherapy that it ‘rang a bell’. The effects of chemotherapy left me at my lowest, in just a few days I was a ‘baby’, I became totally dependent on my mother for everything. Mind you, this was just the beginning, more was to come. I got weaker by the day, this was as a result of the cruelty of chemotherapy, wiping away all my cells. I believed that between chemo and I, there was some kind of a mutual relationship. It helps me recover and in turn, it takes away a bit of myself, my ‘good’ cells for example. It was for this reason I began to question, being the curious person I am, I began to wonder.

During this month of childhood cancer awareness I am reminded of the struggles faced by the little children in hope for cure. Would the journey be as unbearable as it was if chemo just took away the ‘bad’ cells and left the good ones, we all need our good cells, they are our soldiers. Imagine our country without the defence force, we would be vulnerable and exposed to any kind of danger. The same applies to our bodies. I believe new ways could be found to boost the immune systems during the course of treatment and these bodies could stand the test of time.

Cancer is a parlous visitor, it comes uninvited and once it has invaded it difficult to get rid of, in some cases, completely impossible. The world is changing and continuous research is being done, in hope to find improved and better ways of treating cancer. In general, modern life is improved through consistent and thorough research.  This is relevant to the medical field as well. Health research has high value to society. Research leads to significant discoveries and remarkable improvement in healthcare. The development of traztuzumab as a treatment for breast cancer is a prime example of the benefits of research.

Research, however, cannot be conducted without sufficient funds. I think the use of technology and other resources used to conduct the research would come at a high expense. I strongly believe that cancer research should be funded because it is through research that cancer patients can receive the best treatment and stand a chance to survive. In addition, I believe that funding should not be profit driven because then, the purpose would be lost. It is not about financial gain but rather giving one’s life a chance.