My life as a childhood cancer survivor and a mother . Zuki from Africa, retraces her challenging journey with CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia ) and ALL and how, she miraculously conquered both. She talks of the joys of motherhood. Her motto is: “Never forget to live your life to the fullest as you might never know what tomorrow brings for you”. This story is shared by CHOC (CCI member organization in South Africa).
On July 27th 1995 , when I was 12 years old, my whole life changed. I was diagnosed with Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia . I knew nothing at all about this disease called “cancer”. It was to be a long journey that I had to take not knowing what the end would be. I was introduced to an array of procedures that would make me feel better or let the doctors know how I was doing; , some of the horrible and painful ones were Lumbar Puncture and Chemotherapy plus the tablets but they all played their part in making me well. It was not easy missing school, leaving my family and friends, but there was nothing I could do as I needed to be who I was before I got sick. I had all the support from my family and friends, managed to finish my 3 years treatment and went in remission for 18 months. The same month, but in a different year (1999) I had a relapse. I was now diagnosed with CML and Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) . I was very devastated at the thought of coming back to the hospital and getting treatment all over again. I started on a different treatment, but it was not 100% sure that the treatment would work. I was told I had a few days to live; by the grace of God, a doctor from overseas visited our unit. During the doctor’s rounds he came across my file and was told about my history. Fortunately there was a new drug called “GLEEVEC” coming to Johannesburg for a trial, but it was only for adults. I was then 17 years old – almost an adult.- they put me on the regimen. The drug worked wonders and through the journey I was blessed with a beautiful baby girl called Zoë. I never thought that one day I would be a mother and I am overwhelmed when holding the tiny baby in my hands, nurturing her, protecting her and loving her. My life has changed with the coming of Zoe, but it’s okay, because it is fun spending happy hours each day, taking time for all the good that comes along with parenthood. She is my everything. I have always dreamt of having my own child, but with my condition I thought that I wouldn’t be able to have one, but God blessed me. Today I am a proud mother. Wherever I go, she is always with me. She is truly my life – my future and a constant reminder of how blessed I am.