I am Thabang Gideon Magaola. I was born at Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria in Gauteng early 90s. I am an only child in my family. My parents gave me the name Thabang because it is a common name for Tswana and Pedi (Sotho) speaking people. It simply means rejoice. I had a few friends when I grew up; just like those kids from the suburbs. I was an indoor person. I used to play video games a lot.

Before graduating in high school, I had bad and good friends. I started dating and peer pressure was on my shoulder giving me backache. I was acting like I own the world. I bunked some classes but all the girls liked me. Anyway, people change, just like the seasons and weather. I like learning, and I heard in order to have a good life with no regrets, you should study and be a better person.

I love traveling and don’t believe in “love at first sight”. But my mom used to say, “Never say never!”

One day I decided to take a trip alone. It was Saturday morning. I was on a train from Pretoria to Johannesburg, Sandton. On our third stop, a pretty girl jumped in. I was taken aback by her beauty. I stared at her for a while. All the seats were occupied and she was standing. I greeted her with a smile. She smiled back and I gave her my sit.

We had a small conversation and exchanged contact details. A week later, we had dinner. She was looking forward to it more than I was. She got a new hairstyle just for that night. She was getting compliments from everyone there.

After four weeks if not six, we started dating. We were in love and everything felt good.
I even introduced her to my family. We had good times together.

We used to go out to the movies, watch guys like Tyler Perry. She meant everything to me and I meant the world to her. I gave her respect in an extent that I remove my hat when I entered her house. When she got accomplishments I congratulated her. I embraced her, so grateful. Let her skip me in a line, and say ladies first. When I asked her for something I say please. But life is unpredictable.

It was in the evening when I got a call from her. She told me there was something important she wanted to talk to me about. I went to her house as soon as possible. She was in her room having a moment of silence. I sat down and kept quite because I saw something was not adding up. She looked into my eyes with fear. She then held my hands and said, “I was not feeling well the past few weeks. I have sharp pains on my spine and a brain tumour at the back of my mind.”

I was shocked.

I had no idea what she was talking about. She continued.

“I have an illness. It is genetic and has been traveling through my family for ages. It is deadly and dangerous. The way it decrease life quality is outrageous.”

I was freaking out because by the time she caught the disease it was late. It had grown up to a size of a basketball. But she calmed me down and said to me, “You don’t have to worry because it is not contagious.”

After five months, she was miserable. The illness took all her hair and erased her memory. She got weaker and weaker. I could not even take a look at her. But I had hope that one day she would walk again. Two days later she passed away. That was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

It felt like there was a body part that was missing. I did not take it well. It was the first time a person had died in my hands. It affected me mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Losing someone you love is hard to accept. It felt like someone was torturing me. That is when I realized that cancer kills, very soft but painfully.

I lost my mind in to the extent that I wanted to commit suicide.

It was very hard for me. When people tried to talk to me, I told them that I needed my girlfriend back which was impossible. Two months later, my family arranged a meeting with a therapist. I went there, kept quiet and listened. After two sessions, I started to open up and talked about the matter. I joined some discussion groups in which there were different people who happened to be in the same situation like me. That is how I solved my problem.

I attended for a long period and I finally made peace with my heart. I joined the cancer awareness groups and volunteered for weekends to tell the world how dangerous cancer is. I learned a lot about cancer. Cancer is very dangerous. It is not only transmitted through genes, if you smoke cigarettes, it can live in your lungs. It had made some strong men lose their strength. Even some pretty women to lose their breasts. Only God knows the cure and to whom He bless. It can affect him, her, you or them and me. But women need to get to check-up randomly.

Cancer can shorten your life if you are living it long. If you do not go to the doctor that means you support it. If you catch it early, it can be burned out of the body with chemo therapy. That is the only way to stop it.