Cancer conqueror’s journey ‘…grab it by the lapels and kick it!’

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By Catherine Murombedzi

AGED 19, she is Columbia University-bound and set to study medicine, commencing September 2019. 

She is on a full scholarship and her dream to be an oncologist remains on track.

She is the Ambassador of KidzCan, an organisation dedicated to seeing children with cancer live. 

She is the founder of Youths Against Cancer and has raised funds for biopsy for disadvantaged women with cervical cancer. 

She has brought smiles, time and again, to children in the oncology ward battling cancer at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

This is the story of Wadzanayi Michelle Mayiseni.

At age 12, she lay in a Parirenyatwa children’s oncology ward with a swollen limb. 

“It was just a fall at school sports; the bruise and swelling would recede,” her family had said.

She too was not worried. 

She had taken harder knocks before.

A month later, the swelling was building up. 

She could feel a tiny seed-like growth in her knee. 

“My mother would massage my knee every time I had excruciating pain,” she said. 

“With time, painkillers failed to give relief and the struggle became unbearable, but today, all that is history.”

As a Grade Seven pupil at Wadzanayi Primary School in Kambuzuma, Mayiseni’s school days came to an abrupt end. 

In February 2012, the doctors diagnosed cancer of the bones in her left limb.

“I lay in bed one morning when a team of doctors came to my bed in the children’s oncology ward,” she said. 

“I pretended to be asleep while the doctors talked in hushed tones. 

“One of the doctors said: ‘We have to amputate the limb from the hip. The cancer is spreading and that is the only way we can save her’.

“My world crumbled and I wept,” said Mayiseni. 

“Yes, mother and father had debated the issue, with father saying: ‘Never can my angel lose a limb’.

“Mother was stronger as she argued: ‘If it will save her life, so let that be done’. 

“I had heard it from the doctors myself.”

Her teacher and friends from school would visit her, bringing cheer and a longing to get back to school. 

Her mother suggested she sits for Grade Seven exams the following year, but her teacher would not have it. 

Mayiseni came out with flying colours – five units without having been to class! 

Mayiseni is the author of her life. 

At ‘O’-Level, she had 10 As. 

She secured a scholarship and moved from a public school to an upmarket private school.

The November 2018 ‘A’-Level exams saw Mayiseni bagging 14 points. 

Read on, the power to change your life lies in your hands!

Said Mayiseni: “Cancer did not only bring about physical agony; I was subjected to emotional trauma as well. 

“I was going to lose my limb, a change I was not ready to embrace. 

“I was an athlete, a softball player and generally a hyperactive person; all that was going to end. I could not bear the thought of having to live with one leg. 

“On the day of amputation, February 24, 2012, I had comforted myself with the thought of having the coolest prosthesis. 

“When I woke up at around 6pm, after the operation, I felt my toes and the whole limb. 

“I could still feel the everyday pain and the heavy weight of the leg. This fooled me to conclude that my leg had not been amputated. 

“Oh, how happy I felt!

“However, reaching my hand to confirm this, I only touched the sheets. 

“This confirmed what I had feared! 

My limb was gone!”

Mayiseni speaks of the harrowing experience of going under chemotherapy:

“Chemotherapy makes you feel much worse than cancer itself. 

“During chemotherapy, you are more tired than ever. 

“It is like a cloud passing over the sun and suddenly you are out. I had three cycles of chemo and it was hard going through them, but I had to pick myself up and carry on.

“Cancer is life-threatening, but recovery is life-changing.”

The worst part of enduring cancer is that you see each day as a curse and the best part of conquering it is that you will start treating each day as a blessing. 

“I did not only survive, but I also conquered!” she said.

“Cancer lost the battle against me because it originally planned to weaken me, but inadvertently made me stronger. 

“In fact, it helped me realise the fighter in me.”

Mayiseni does not take kindly to people calling her disabled.

“I am surprised when some people call me disabled,” she said.

“Disability is not based on being physically incomplete, it is an attitude. 

“There are people with one eye who see more than those with two. There are people with one leg, but they run the race of life, finish and win it. 

“I, for one, can never be deterred from achieving my dreams. 

“I would also like to thank God for my family because they stood by me throughout. 

“To those who are battling cancer, my advice is, no matter how painful the fight, cancer will go and you will live on. 

“Cancer can defeat medicine, but it should never defeat your spirit. Grab cancer by the lapels and kick it.”

With Mayiseni speaking victory, all battling cancer must know that it can be defeated! 

If Mayiseni fought the battle and won, you too can win and join Mayiseni in looking back and saying: “Cancer cells, you have no place in my life!”

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