By Bridgette Bugalo
BULAWAYO- Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe yesterday revealed that she has lost one breast to cancer as she upped her battle against stigma.
Speaking during a ceremony to handover rehabilitated facilities at Mpilo Central Hospital, Khupe condemned the perpetuation of stigma around certain diseases especially HIV and Aids and cancer. “There is a need to have a positive attitude towards these diseases because, here I am today with cancer and one breast.
“During the time when I was diagnosed with cancer, some anonymous person sent a letter suggesting I should see a prophet, but I said to myself, two things were important and I still insist that medication and spirituality are important,” she said.
Khupe said there was a need for people to treat HIV and Aids and cancer as diseases that could be managed. “The problem with people is that they are afraid of what their neighbours will say or what so-and-so will say about their status.
“It is absolutely none of their business. People should not be afraid of HIV and Aids because if they take their medication, they can live for 30 or more years if they take their medication religiously.
“Yes, I have cancer and now one breast, so what? It is not something to be shy about. When I am with my family that is when people realise I have only one breast. But when I am not at home, I make sure I pad myself so that I look like I have both of my breasts when in reality I do not,” she said.
Khupe said she was grateful that she was recovering after undergoing surgery in South Africa recently. “I am very happy that my faith has also increased because of this ailment. And people should remember that cancer is not an event, but a process. As it is, I am up and kicking as you can see me,” she said.
Health and Child Welfare minister Henry Madzorera, who also graced the occasion, applauded Khupe for her courage in going public about her condition.
Khupe was diagnosed with breast cancer in June this year. Since then she had been undergoing chemotherapy treatment and in November went for a surgical operation in South Africa where one of her breasts was removed. NewsDay