Mandla Zondo: lobbying hope
Mandla Zondo tells us how losing his brother to prostate cancer in the same year he was diagnosed motivated him to lobby hope and in turn co-found CanSurvive Kwa-Thema Support Group.
Mandla Zondo (72) lives in Springs, Gauteng. He is married and has two children and six grandchildren.
Mandla started his yearly prostate cancer screening in 2011.
In 2013, his GP referred him to a urologist as he had an enlarged prostate. Mandla’s prostate was so enlarged that it restricted urination and he had to undergo a cystoscopy (endoscopy of the urinary bladder via the urethra). He was then put on oral medication, tamsulosin, to treat lower urinary tract symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate.
A few months later, Mandla’s prostate specific antigen (PSA) level was 11. The urologist then prescribed a LHRH agonist injection to lower his testosterone levels which stayed in his system for three months. The result was Mandla’s PSA level going down to 7. However, the urologist still wasn’t happy so prescribed another injection which stayed in his system for nine months. Mandla’s PSA level only dropped to 6, so the urologist did a biopsy of the prostate and the result confirmed he had Stage 1 prostate cancer.
Losing brother and facing his own diagnosis
This came as a blow to Mandla as his older brother was battling Stage 4 prostate cancer and sadly passed away. “I was very close to him and saw how traumatic cancer can be if not detected at an early stage, like his. This is when I decided I need to face my diagnosis and encourage other men that there is hope,” Mandla says.
Mandla’s wife and children were distressed at the news, but he ensured them that his chances were good as his cancer was found early.
In 2014, Mandla then underwent brachytherapy (placing radioactive pellet inside the prostate) which was done in conjunction with the urologist and an oncologist. Twenty-nine pellets were inserted. This proved to be extremely successful as Mandla’s PSA level went down to 0,03 and all other treatment was stopped.
His doctors then advised him to live a healthy and active life.
This was easy for the grandfather as he has always enjoyed walking and and competed in many races.
CanSurvive Support Group
A few years later, after reading an article about CanSurvive in the press, Mandla contacted Ronnie Nkabinde, one of the CanSurvive directors. In 2018, after meeting Ronnie and attending some support groups, Mandla was asked, by Ronnie, to assist him to start a prostate support group in the Kwa-Thema area, near Springs which Mandla gladly accepted. This made Mandla, the chairperson for the CanSurvive Kwa-Thema Support Group
“It started out as a prostate cancer support group. However, a few months later we felt we needed to accommodate other cancers, like breast, cervical, etc. and now we have many women in the group,” Mandla says.
Mandla also assists Ronnie with the monthly Men’s Wellness Clinic at the main clinic in Kwa- Thema. Unfortunately, the support group has been stopped due to COVID. However, support is still offered telephonically and via WhatsApp, and in person where possible.
Seven years cancer free
Mandla checks his PSA level annually and is due to go in September. The last two years, it has been 0,06 and 0,03 respectively. So, he is proud to be going on seven years being cancer free.
Mandla is dedicated to helping other cancer patients through their journey and keeps himself busy in his welding and steel workshop.