TWENTY-ONE year-old Maseabata Khaile of Lithabaneng in Maseru says she has become increasingly hopeless, fearful and frustrated in her fight against oral cancer which has not only caused her physical and mental pain but has also affected her appearance.
Ms Khaile was diagnosed with oral cancer in June 2016 and since then she has visited traditional and medical practitioners in what has so far proved to be a fruitless search for a cure.
Instead, her face has swelled leaving her in great pain while affecting her eyes and causing difficulty in speech and breathing.
The Lesotho Times recently visited Ms Khaile and found that she had visited yet another traditional healer in a desperate attempt to find a cure.
She narrated how what began as sores on her gums in June 2016 rapidly turned into painful swellings which were later diagnosed as oral cancer at Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH).
“After the bad news, my life changed dramatically as I had to abandon school because I had to shuttle between Bloemfontein (South Africa) and Tsepong (hospitals) to seek medical treatment,” Ms Khaile said.
“I was transferred to Bloemfontein for chemotherapy and I have been going there several times and the last visit was in Easter for radiotherapy. I have since stopped attending radiotherapy after doctors said it could make me blind.”
She described herself as “a confused soul because I do not know what the future holds for me”.
“The other challenge is that as much as I would choose to wait I’m slowly losing my sight because I cannot see when it becomes dark and my eyes are always teary.
“I was warned that the tumour was likely to grow bigger and it’s going to affect my sight as it has already blocked my nose. I have no option but to use my mouth to breath.
“I also hate being around other people and prefer my own space because I do not like it when people stare at me.”
She said her condition had affected her confidence to an extent that she stayed indoors except for the time she went for checkups or to the nearby shop.
For his part Ms Khaile’s father, Motlatsi Khaile said his daughter’s condition had left him a broken man because he was powerless to assist her.
“I feel I’m failing her as a parent because she even goes alone for checkups because I don’t have a passport and money to support her when she is in hospital,” Mr Khaile said.
“However, I haven’t lost hope that one day my daughter will be free from this painful illness. I hope she will be as beautiful as she was before the cancer.”
Meanwhile, consultant physician, Molotsi Monyamane said the oral cancer was “very tricky” because it had affected Ms Khaile’s face.
He said it could leave her blind and could be terminal if it spread to other parts of the body.
“If chemotherapy failed to destroy the tumour then the only option left is radiotherapy but the challenge is that radiotherapy destroys normal along with abnormal cells.
“The fact that this will be performed on the face could affect the eyes and the brain cells.
“The eyes are very sensitive but there is nothing to protect them when the radiotherapy is done,” Dr Monyamane said.
“But then again if she does not go for therapy the cancer will spread to the bones and end up in death so she needs to think very carefully, Dr Monyamane said.
He advised her to consult a psychologist for advice and therapy, adding there was one at Queen Elizabeth II Hospital.