Health-e (Cape Town)

South Africa: Fear and Worry About Treatment Interruption

Sandile Mkhabela (66) – Westonaria Pensioner

Retired school principal – two children and two grandchildren.

In 2008 Mkhabela was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Because of the slow development of his specific type of cancer he did not receive any chemotherapy or radiation, but was given medication to suppress further growth.

However, this mild treatment was not successful, and in June this year the tumour on his prostate ruptured and had to be removed. In October, doctors discovered that the cancer had spread to other parts of his body and he started radiation treatment at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

His Westonaria home is about 50km from the hospital and at first he undertook the return trip every day by minibus taxi, but later decided to rather stay at a facility run by the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) during the week while he received his treatment and return to his family over weekends.

When Mkhabela arrived for treatment on October 16 he was informed that the radiation machine has broken down and that they would call him when it was repaired.

“This created a lot of fear and worry. I don’t want to die, but I know the cancer can kill me if I don’t get the treatment,” said Mkhabela. “The hospital told me not to miss any treatments because I might get sick again, but now they say nothing, and they don’t make alternative arrangements for treatment.”

“I’m a sick person. When I come to hospital only to be told the machine isn’t working, it’s a terrible experience,” he said. “Now the machine is working, but we don’t know until when.”

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