The groundbreaking oncologist curing her community’s information crisis


Anyone can get cancer. But not everyone gets treated. Because of unnecessary stigma and myths around the disease, many people avoid check-ups until it’s too late. As one of the first black, female oncologists in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Doctor Sithembile Ngidi is aware of the magnitude of misinformation that abounds in the province’s rural areas. And she wants to change that.

Ngidi’s desire to provide medical help to others grew out of her childhood struggle with asthma. Her many trips to her doctor left her in awe of how someone’s job could bring such healing and comfort. When asked to envision her future career at school, she recalls drawing herself standing beside a patient, needle and syringe in hand. Ngidi was at the time just a young kid from Gamalakhe township, but she had a dream that turned into a faithfully-followed plan.

After graduating from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal’s Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, Ngidi worked as a medical officer at KwaMashu Polyclinic. Studying for years to practice medicine wasn’t easy. Neither was graduating from the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa in Radiation Oncology. She has faced racial prejudice, and has had to fight off the assumption that she has only made it this far because of her race and gender. Day after day, the compassionate doctor reminds herself why she is here – to help people in need with the power of education.