Beating cancer from a motorbike
When Raynolda Makhutle was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 40, she had to fight more than just the disease. Her late diagnosis – the result of changing doctors as her regular practitioner had never suggested a pap smear – left Makhutle angry and frustrated. After undergoing surgery to remove the cancer, she discovered three months later that she had tumours on both her ovaries. The decision to have a hysterectomy saved her life, but Makhutle was not prepared for what she would lose instead. “In our culture, when you lose a womb you’re stigmatised that you are not a complete woman,” she says. “My husband left me because he was scared.”
Overwhelmed by post-menopausal symptoms after surgery, depression, and the rising cost of medical bills, Makhutle almost gave up. Five years later, her mother was also diagnosed with cancer and soon passed away. It wasn’t just the disease killing people, but the misinformation about it. When she joined People Living with Cancer and Cancervive, Makhutle was surprised by the difference that support and understanding made to her struggle. “I realised that we need more people in black communities educating and providing support around this disease,” she says.
Rather than dwelling on what she lost, this cancer survivor is now focusing on what she still has to give. As a member of Cancervive, Makhutle travels around South Africa to provide the support that was initially denied to her. “Once a year we go to different provinces on motorbikes spreading the message of awareness, early detection and hope,” she says. As part of the team, Makhutle has reached over 31 000 people. “Cancer gave me a purpose,” she says. “Today I celebrate life to the fullest.” And for all those who have encountered Makhutle and the Cancervive team, they now have the chance to do the same.