Dedication in the purest form

Dedication in the purest form

Ouma Mamatela, a Breast Health Foundation patient navigator, shares her experience of having COVID-19 and how she courageously chooses to continue to work in hospitals.

Ouma Mamatela lives in Florida, Roodepoort. Her role as a patient navigator is to navigate patients from one hospital to another depending on their treatment, provide emotional support and education about breast cancer in the communities.

Getting COVID-19

When Ouma had a sore throat just before Christmas, she suspected she had COVID-19. She went to the nearest clinic but was told that testing had already finished for the day so she decided to go to the doctor.   

On 22 December, Ouma received her results confirming she was positive. “It’s one thing thinking you have it, but receiving the text that confirms it really scared me,” she says.

Ouma quarantined at home but due to it being Christmas her brother didn’t want her to be alone so picked her up to stay with him. All efforts of social distancing and sanitising were taken.

Because Ouma is a breast cancer survivor, her concerns of having COVID-19 escalated. “I was extremely anxious with the fear that I won’t make it,” she adds.

Describing the pain, Ouma says the pain from her throat felt like it was going out of  her ears. She also loss her taste and appetite and suffered a terrible cough.

When asked if she had an idea where she caught it, she responds, “To be honest, I have no idea where I got it from. I rack my brain trying to think where I got it but I really don’t know. Maybe it was when I was at the mall doing my Christmas shopping?”

Back at work    

The patient navigator is back at work serving the breast cancer community. “I still get nervous sometimes that I will get sick again. So, I wash my hands as often as I can and keep my sanitiser in my pocket, dress in protective gear and do my best to keep social distance.” 

Ouma adds, “I enjoy my job, and the breast cancer patients I counsel are just as scared as I was when I had COVID-19, maybe even more. So I want and need to be there for them. I know the feeling of the shock and bewilderment of a cancer diagnosis and don’t ever want a woman to go through that alone.”

Unfortunately, the after-effects of COVID-19 are no game either. Ouma still has a cough that won’t go away, and says that she is always tired because she coughs throughout the night. “Im terrified of getting it again. As a result I drink all my medication without fail and if I run out I go to the pharmacy to get more vitamins.”

Reflecting on life

The 43-year-old says she used the time in isolation to reflect about the time that she has on earth andhow short life is. “We can never take anything for granted, and, most importantly, we must appreciate what we have and where we are in life.”

Helen Joseph Breast Care Clinic 2021 procedures:

We ask all Helen Joseph Breast Care Clinic patients to be sensible during the second wave of COVID-19. 

If you are coming in for a follow-up appointment or plastic surgery, please postpone your visit until Level 1. Should you need a repeat prescription, email / WhatsApp your name, surname and date of birth to: [email protected] or 073 326 1557.

Call 0860 283 343 or 073 326 1557 with any queries.