Health-e (Cape Town)

7 December 2012

South Africa: 'Is My Cancer Worsening While Machine Is Broken?'

Corrie Koekemoer (68) Kempton Park pensioner – three children and three grandchildren

In late January this year Koekemoer started coughing up blood. Doctors found a cancerous tumour the size of a tennis ball on one of her lungs.

She underwent six months of chemotherapy and in late August started preventative radiation to her brain, as lung cancer commonly also spreads to the brain. However, after two weeks of treatment, the radiation machine at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital broke down on October 16. It only came back on again on November 1, but was out of order again three days later.

“I felt really scared. You can’t help thinking that the cancer is actually worsening during that time you’re waiting for the machine to be fixed,” said Koekemoer.

The situation affects more than the patient’s wellbeing: “On the days I have treatment, my son drives me from Kempton Park to town, and then he has to go to work in Edenvale. In the evening, he drives back into town to fetch me, and then back home to Kempton Park. He spends hours on the road driving me back and forth, and it is very frustrating when you go through all that trouble to get to the hospital and you can’t even receive your treatment.”

Despite the poor service she receives from the hospital, Koekemoer is full of praise for the staff at the oncology unit. “The doctors and nurses are fantastic, but their hands are tied.”

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