Breast cancer survivor, Ouma Mamatela, shares her poignant story of longing to be a mother.
Ouma Mamatela (41) lives in Mulbarton, Gauteng with her husband, Mokete (47).
Ouma met Mokete when she was 16 years old; he is her one true love. In total, they have been together for 23 years – dating for 13 years and married for 10 years.
While dating, they would often talk about their ‘future children’. Ouma would say she wants two boys while Mokete insisted he only wanted one child. She would tell him how spoilt her children will be – running around wild and jumping on couches.
In 2000, when Ouma was 23, she suffered a miscarriage. At the time, she never knew she was pregnant and only found out when she went to the doctor due to pain and bleeding.
Thereafter, the couple continuously tried to fall pregnant but unfortunatley with no success. After several doctors’ visits, it was discovered one of Ouma’s fallopian tubes was blocked. She was put on medication for a year to increase the chance of ovulating (on the other unblocked tube). Though, she never fell pregnant.
Monthly crying session
“Every time I started my period, that would be my crying session,” Ouma recalls. “I would be in tears. Then when someone would ask, ‘Don’t you have kids?’, I would burst into tears. When I was out with my friends and they would talk about their children, I would be so offended.”
Ouma wouldn’t say anything to them as she knew their children were their pride and joy, but that didn’t take away the pain she felt.
Mokete would take Ouma out and spoil her when he saw she was upset, hoping she would forget about her hurt.
Breast cancer diagnosis
Then, in May 2015, Ouma, aged 38, was diagnosed with ER+PR+ breast cancer. She was told by a doctor that it is still possible for her to conceive after treatment. This gave Ouma hope. She started six months of chemotherapy, but was frustrated as she saw her treatment as a delay in having children. Ouma then had a double mastectomy.
Before she started radiation, in 2016, she asked an oncologist if she would be able to have children. The doctor’s response, “It’s unlikely” was not what Ouma wanted to hear. The reasons given were: her age; her cancer treatment; and if she did fall pregnant there was a chance of abnormality. Completely frazzled, Ouma went home and told her husband that they needed to consider adoption. At that time, Mokete was more concerned with Ouma’s health. “All I wanted was her to be cancer free, having kids or adopting was secondary,” Mokete says.
Next, radiation (five weeks) and tamoxifen (10 years) commenced. Ouma was also put on Zoladex injections (which stops the ovaries from producing oestrogen which ultimately is preventing the breast cancer from recurring). But only after a year, did she find out exactly what the injection does. She asked the oncologist if she could stop it. Due to her being on it for a year already, the oncologist agreed.
Year of acceptance
2018 has been a year of change for Ouma. “I still long to be a mother but I am at peace. I spoke to God about it a lot and this year my prayers to Him have changed. Instead of thanking Him for my children, I thank Him for who He has made me to be and the life He has given me,” Ouma explains. “I also fill my life with my nieces and nephews.”
Mokete has also made peace with the situation, saying, “As a Christian, I believe everything happens for a reason. If it is God’s will, let it be. Also, we’ve never discussed adoption thoroughly; I’ve been scared it would seem like I was putting pressure on her…that I wanted children. Plus, not having children is not a crime.”
He has also seen a change in Ouma since she became a community educator for Breast Health Foundation in 2016. “I see her work has given her hope and showed her that she can inspire other women.”
MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams
Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. email@example.com