While many see a cancer diagnosis as the end of the road, conquering the disease was only the beginning for Zodwa Dube. Zodwa’s story as told to Zamandulo Malonde.
Zodwa was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and lost part of her foot to the disease before being declared cancer-free in 2003.
She was voted The Herald GMSA Citizen of the Year in 2015 for her voluntary work at the Igazi Foundation, an NPO working in blood services and education, and today she is also leading a drive for more black stem-cell donors under the Marrow Masakhane banner.
Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was slim. I used to be an athlete, I used to do hurdles.
But then you just let go, you stop exercising and start eating horribly. You discover chocolate mousse from Woolies, and I didn’t watch what I ate. Whatever was available at that time was what I ate.
I have always hated the gym, so I never went. Even though I have always had a membership card, I would only actually go twice or three times a year.
I was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 and a year later, in 2003, I had to have one of my toes amputated.
Even after my diagnosis, my eating wasn’t right.
The thing with cancer is that you ask yourself a lot of questions – why me?
Why was I the one to be so unfortunate? And thereafter you just don’t care about anything anymore. Then you get jolted back.
For me, it was the Igazi Foundation which jolted me back. Visiting cancer patients and seeing how they so much want to live makes you look at yourself and think “here I am trying to kill myself by not looking after myself, yet there are people who would do and give anything to be in my position”.
One of the things that kept me going is I want to see my son grow and get to meet his wife. I want to be there for my kids.
Also, last year my mother-in-law passed away from cancer and you look at yourself and think “why are we all dying of cancer, what is happening?” and one of the reasons is that we are unhealthy. We sit at home and watch TV all day.
I don’t ever want to get cancer again and if I can do as much as I can to reduce any chance of getting it, then I will.
I have a personal trainer; we meet three times a week to do weight training and a bit of cardio.
I wouldn’t call myself a fitness fanatic. If I didn’t have to lose weight and be healthy, I probably wouldn’t do anything but I realise the benefits of being healthy and being at the right weight.
I have lost 10kg of body weight since January and I am very much inspired by Leandie Williams, who lost 45kg. That is a huge amount of weight! She inspires me.
We’ve changed the way we eat in the house. We used to eat out a lot. We don’t do that anymore and we now have healthier ways of cooking. We mostly eat vegetables, protein and fats.
It also helps a lot to have a supportive husband like mine.
Apart from gym and sticking to a healthy diet, I cycle with my son and swim as well, and one of my goals is taking part in The Herald Continental Cycle Tour.
Losing weight has helped lessen complications with walking and running due to my amputated toe.
Believe it or not, it is all about weight. Ever since losing weight, I’ve seen less of my podiatrist.
There were times when I was unable to walk because I would develop calluses under my feet and had to have them scraped off.
I have chosen to take part in the SPAR Women’s Challenge because it’s a challenge.
Besides, I’ve been wanting to do a walk, properly, and there’s no better walk than this one, for me. I look forward to completing it.
Even if I’m not the first, reaching the finish line is what I mostly look forward to. We must be successful at taking care of ourselves.