Silwangaye Mpande: the madala who had breast cancer

We hear how Silwangaye Mpande found out he had breast cancer at the age of 84.


Silwangaye Mpande (86) lives in Roodepoort, Gauteng with his son. He has two other daughters and three grandchildren.

Diagnosed in 2017

Two years ago, Silwangaye had pain in his left breast and it was swollen. His son took him to a local clinic and he was referred to Helen Joseph Hospital Breast Care Clinic. After numerous tests, it was confirmed that he had a ductal carcinoma. 

The then 84-year-old was angry when he found out he had breast cancer. Firstly, because he didn’t have a clue what it was and, secondly, he didn’t understand how he got it.

Only family knew

He only told his immediate family (three children and their partners) about the diagnosis. Silwangaye didn’t want his community to know as he was worried about how they would treat him. 

He explains there is still a misconception about cancer in the African community. Many people will avoid anyone with cancer as to not ‘catch it’ and some people still believe it is only a ‘white man’s disease’. 

“Even I thought it was a white man’s disease,” Silwangaye adds. “I don’t tell anyone that I had cancer.”

Treatment

The grandfather underwent a mastectomy with the removal of the left nipple in 2018. He was then prescribed tamoxifen for 10 years. He fetches his medication every month from the hospital by making use of taxis as transport.

“I am happy that the cancer is gone even though I have half of a body now. The only thing I suffer with is pain and numbness on my left side. But I make sure the doctor always writes out my script for pain medication. Other than that, I am strong for an 86-year-old man. Two years later and I am still alive! Though, my eyes are giving me a problem,” Silwangaye adds.

Grandchildren amused by scar 

Silwangaye enjoys telling the story of how his grandchildren laugh and joke when he sits at home with no shirt on. “Because there is no nipple and it looks different to their bodies, plus the scarring from the operation, they ask what happened and think it is very funny that I only have one nipple” he says. Though, this doesn’t bother the grandfather as he knows they are children and are not being malicious.

Still working

Even though Silwangaye is 14-years away from being a centenarian, he still works in a tavern. “I sit down and give the customers their beers, and delegate to the other workers.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Photos by Chantal Drummond Photography | info@chantaldphoto.co.za  |  www.chantaldphoto.co.za

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. editor@buddiesforlife.co.za


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