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Cancer beaten!

Publishing Date : 04 September, 2017


Cancer survivor, Lebani Tapiwa Mazhani did not let the trauma of being diagnosed with salivary gland cancer at only 24 years old get in the way of her bringing hope to other victims. Following intense treatment and life changing circumstances, she now lives her life to impact others and hopefully, reduce cancer related deaths.  

Currently, 7.6 million people die from cancer worldwide every year, out of which, 4 million people die prematurely (aged 30 to 69 years). Unless urgent action is taken to raise awareness about the disease and to develop practical strategies to address cancer, by 2025, this is projected to increase to an alarming 6 million premature cancer deaths per year. Mazhani was diagnosed with stage-two salivary gland cancer at 24-years-old. In her mouth had been a painless, odourless tumour growing slowly for over a year. It was only after her mother, who is a dentist, looked into her mouth that the tumour was discovered and she went to the hospital to begin treatment.

She underwent grueling treatment that included surgery on her mouth and neck, chemotherapy and radiation. During that time, she could not open her mouth, could not eat for months and now has very little saliva production as a result of the radiation treatment. She survived to tell her story through a book titled Facing Cancer From Under A Mask, meant to bring hope and inspiration to other cancer patients. In the book, Mazhani shares her despair after the diagnosis, her decision to fight the disease head on and the journey that she went through until she found hope. The book also details Mazhani’s 24-month battle with cancer and how it completely changed her outlook on life.

Despite what she went through, she continues to live to tell her story of triumph. She was a key speaker at the 2016 Botswana Health and Wellness Expo, where she appealed for policy reform and support to combat cancer. She also works closely with the Princess Marina Oncology Department, Gaborone Private Hospital and the Cancer Association of Botswana, supporting patients, raising awareness, giving the hope needed to survive treatment and encouraging early detection.

In as much as cancer is fatal and has demanded many lives, Madzhani took it upon herself to sensitize on the issue and reach out to family and homes who had been hit hard by this disease. She is currently the host of Can Survive Talk show on Gabz FM and she has used the platform, to bring hope, reach out and be a voice of cancer victims. “Mine is a story of hope in despair. I want to share this story with Botswana and the world so that we can work together to fight cancer, a disease that is affecting families all over the world,” she shared on her Facebook page.

Mazhani has not been cleared of the disease as yet. She is, however, living a full and meaningful life despite the side effects. While battling cancer, she managed to complete her studies for a Bachelor of Law degree at the University of Botswana. She now aspires to pursue her Master’s in Medical Law to become better equipped to help patients, doctors and policy developers in Botswana.  “We need more support and more awareness about cancer. We need to educate people about cancer just as we did with HIV,” says Mazhani on her Facebook page.

In her recent last episode of the show of The Can Survive, she reached out to a family that lost their 23 year old son who was diagnosed with Chondrosarcoma, a type of cancer which forms on the white cartilage covering of the bone. This was her way of allowing the family the platform to openly share their experience with the world for the first time since they lost their son. Mazhani continues to be a cancer activist by extensively and radically addressing cancer issues and telling the next person they can also survive cancer.



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