Cancer warriors, Sarah Smit and Mandla Zondo, are shining brightly years after their respective cancer diagnoses. We chat to both.
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The gift of motherhood
Sarah Smit (33) lives in Pretoria, Gauteng with her husband, Pieter, and three-year-old daughter, Zoey.
At the age of 25, Sarah was diagnosed with ovarian cancer three months before her wedding. She gave Pieter the chance to rethink his proposal, though he was a man of honour and explained he still wanted to marry her in spite of her diagnosis.
Even though Sarah had one of her ovaries and part of her fallopian tube removed, her and Pieter managed to fall pregnant naturally three years after she finished treatment. The young couple had frozen embryos as a back-up but once their miracle child, Zoey, was born, they donated them to science.
Sarah decided not to go back to work after giving birth to Zoey and is really enjoying the gift of motherhood and family life. “Zoey is in nursery school; she loves her teacher and friends. She is very busy and absolutely adores being outside and exploring. She loves gymnastics and has grown so much in the year since she started. Pieter still enjoys working remotely and gets to spend lots of time with Zoey and me. We enjoy weekends away and exploring any place that has a play area.”
Once a year Sarah goes for a check-up. “I normally have my blood work checked but in 2022 I had additional CT scans.”
She adds, “We are happy with our baby girl and aren’t planning any more children, but we can never say never; we don’t know what the future holds.”
Ploughing back into the cancer community
Mandla Zondo (75) lives in Springs, Gauteng with his wife. They have two children and six grandchildren.
It has been 10 years that Mandla has been free of prostate cancer. He underwent brachytherapy and says his side effects were short-lived.
Since his diagnosis, he got involved with running cancer support groups in Kwa-Thema along with fellow prostate cancer survivor, Ronnie Nkabinde. Unfortunately, Ronnie passed away from a different issue a few years back which weighed heavily on Mandla. “The passing of Ronnie was a huge loss for me and had a detrimental impact on running support groups in other areas and reviving them due to lack of resources and transport. Thankfully, I’m still conducting the monthly men’s wellness clinic at the local clinic and my intention is to extend it to other neighbouring towns.”
Mandla gets his PSA level checked every September (which is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month) and maintains a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy, avoiding any fatty and spicy foods, minimising red meat, and eating fruit and vegetables daily. He is still an avid runner and competes in races; he walks three times a week and does exercises on a daily basis.
He says he finds joy and much purpose in ploughing back into the cancer community, especially due to the fact that his brother passed away from prostate cancer.
MEET THE EDITOR – Laurelle Williams
Laurelle Williams is the editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Write to [email protected]
These patient stories are brought to you by AstraZeneca for patient awareness and education. The article has not been edited or altered by AstraZeneca in anyway. This ensure our content remains non-bias.
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