Made with love – Hazvinei Matonda

Hazvinei Matonda tells us how seeing breast cancer patients knitting in a doctor’s waiting room inspired her to unleash her own creativity.


Hazvinei Matonda (40) lives in Harare, Zimbabwe with her husband and two children, aged 11 and four.

Inspiration

While waiting to see a breast specialist in SA, Hazvinei looked around the room and saw different women knitting. When she asked what they were knitting and who for, she was told – blankets for the less privileged. “Besides their obvious pain and uncertainty of their own conditions, they still had time and the heart to help the underprivileged. I also learnt that knitting improves motor skills, especially after surgery, and reduces the risk of lymphoedema,” Hazvinei explains.   

Diagnosis

In April 2015, Hazvinei was diagnosed with Stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma in her home country, Zimbabwe. She explains she wasn’t given much information about the disease, except that she had to immediately go for a mastectomy the following week. This was the first time Hazvinei had ever heard the word mastectomy. 

She decided she wanted a second opinion. “I researched the available treatment methods as well as read testimonies of survivors. This, as well   as the support from family and friends, gave me hope and a realisation that other treatment options are available. 

I was told about a great breast specialist in SA. So, I researched her and read about her achievements. Then I booked an appointment for May 2015 and 

thank God for the opportunity as she told me I didn’t need a mastectomy, a lumpectomy could be done,” Hazvinei recalls. 

The Zimbabwean had a lumpectomy done in SA at Helen Joseph Breast Care Clinic. Then, the breast specialist referred her to Zimbabwe for chemo and radiation. “This was a good move because while I was undergoing treatment I was with my family, and my medical aid could cover some of the cost,” Hazvinei says. 

Hazvinei’s medical aid didn’t cover any medical costs in SA, but partly covered treatment costs in Zimbabwe. As a result, she had to look for assistance for the shortfalls.

Treatment

The 16 rounds of chemo and 30 days of radiation took a toll on Hazvinei’s body that she had to take some time off from her job, as a banker. 

Though she says three things motivated her to keep pushing: a loving family that cared and encouraged her; the desire to live and see her children grow up and, lastly, a strong faith in  God and the will to get better.

When Hazvinei completed treatment in October 2016, she went back to work at the bank. 

Making handcrafts

Like any other cancer patient, the mother suffered side effects – damage to the nerves in the arm on the treated side. This resulted in tingling, pain, numbness and weakness. 

Hazvinei then remembered the inspiration in the doctor’s room and explored making table mats, knitting macramé bags and decorating empty bottles. 

“I discovered that I actually enjoyed making crafts and it took my mind off worrying. I started with a few samples that I took to friends and colleagues and their response was awe-inspiring. It was beyond what I expected and the overwhelmingly good responses   spurred me to do more,” she says.

“I have now expanded my product line. I use my weekends and sometimes after work to create them but I also have four women, who I trained, to make all the products.” The money that Hazvinei is making through her creations is helping her pay some of the medical  aid shortfalls.

NGO diploma 

Not only did Hazvinei unleash her creativity after breast cancer but she   also attained a diploma in NGO development and management in 2017. What spurred this on? “I lost my father to prostate cancer and my elder brother died from liver cancer. With that, I sought to understand more about cancer, the challenges faced by fellow patients, and how to help women to fight this disease in terms of awareness and the importance of early diagnosis,” she explains. “It shows that great opportunities can emerge even from   the grimmest of circumstances.”

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. Write to the editor@buddiesforlife.co.za

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 protected]


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