My name is Samekelisiwe Mkhonza. I was born 1996, just four years after my brother/sister, a second blessing bestowed on my parents.
I am that blessing.
My parents were excited about being blessed with yet another bundle of joy that they knew was going to achieve so much greatness in her life.
However from 1998 to 2000 proved to be the most difficult period for me and my entire family.
In late 1998, we had gone on vacation and on our return there was a change in my health. I was no longer the most talkative, playful, stubborn and joyful child my family knew.
I complained about a pain in my left side, and constantly felt tired. My eating patterns had changed and my appearance in general also changed.
I vaguely remember driving to our local hospital in the late hours of the night because of the intense pain I had been feeling. I was apparently prescribed some painkillers and told I would wake up feeling better the next morning.
The next morning came and I seemed to be getting worse. My parents took me to our doctor who said that he could not find anything wrong with me. My mother then demanded to be referred for a second opinion. We went to the closest paediatric specialist where countless test were done on me.
And there it was…. the answer to all my pain.
I had a kidney tumour, not only that, but my kidney had to be removed as soon as possible to stop the cancer from spreading to other parts of my body.
I had just turned 3 years old. Hearing that their only daughter has been diagnosed with something they were not familiar with and that my kidney had to be removed was a great shock to my parents.
The operation had to be done at once. I vaguely remember seeing my mother pacing up and down the room, constantly in prayer, my father trying to remain strong. My brother’s only concern was when he would be able to play with me again.
My parents were with me constantly.
From the stories told by my mother, the only thing that concerned me was when I’d be able to start pre-school because I was tired of seeing my brother go to school and I could not attend.
I had to undergo chemotherapy and I was therefore transferred to UNITAS hospital.
Those are the most dominant memories I have to this day. The countless drips, injections and blood tests. Day after day.
Through all of this, my mother always spoke to me positivity and sat at my bedside. She had faith in my future and said that I was and will always be destined for greatness and created for a greater purpose. She and my father were always in constant prayer that I would overcome the cancer and be a living testimony of God’s miraculous work.
Staying far from the hospital, my parents had to sleep in the car as they could not travel up and down each day. Having no place to sleep for the first few days didn’t stop them from making sure that I was still happy and comfortable at all times. They were my source of strength.
That’s where CHOC stepped in and offered my parents a place to sleep during this difficult time. CHOC offered my parents a home away from home. The stress and burden about a place to lay their heads was removed off their shoulders. I will never forget the memorable hospital visits, gifts and annual Christmas parties CHOC hosted. My family and I will forever be grateful to CHOC for what they did for us in our time of need.
It has been 17 years now since my operation, and it has been sixteen years that I have been living without a kidney.
If there is one thing that I would like people to take away from my story is that “this too shall pass” and that there is hope. The motto of CHOC says it all, “keeping more than hope alive”.