Saturday, 18 July 2020

I WAS GIVEN A FEW WEEKS TO LIVE IN 2016 : I'M STILL HERE


After being ravaged by prostate cancer and given just a few weeks to live in a first world country’s hospital, four years on Mr Peter Moyo is still going strong and looking forward to seeing his grandchildren, thanks to a plant-based diet.

A father of four, Moyo (73) from Entumbane suburb in Bulawayo, was first diagnosed with cancer while visiting his eldest daughter in Canada.

He had spent four-and-a-half months touring the country and meeting friends of his daughter who is a social worker until he decided to visit a doctor, 14 days before he was due to return home.

It was mid-July 2016 when he felt pain and decided to walk into a clinic where he was later referred to Hamilton Emergency Hospital.

Mr Moyo vividly remembers how the young tall doctor from Hamilton Emergency Hospital told him he needed a CT-scan for perennial abdominal pains and stomach aches.

After series of tests, Moyo, a former Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) employee, went for a scan and waited for the results which would change his life forever.

“The doctor’s long face spelt nothing but doom as he paced up and down my room before asking for my wife and daughter to join me.

“I knew that something was wrong when he asked me how many days I was left with in Canada. He looked at my daughter and said ‘sorry, your father has cancer and has not much time left for him to live’ before looking away,” says Mr Moyo.

According to Mr Moyo, the doctor whose name he doesn’t remember, looked at him and added: “Mr Moyo, your cancer is advanced on Stage 4 and beyond all we can do. I suggest you go home as soon as possible.

In fact, use the next plane and go home so that you spend your last days with your loved ones because I doubt you will make it to August.

“I froze and nearly collapsed. I could not stomach how I got such a scary prognosis when I was expecting to be having a time of my life in Canada.”

Mr Moyo had never imagined he would die of prostate cancer which is the eighth killer disease in Zimbabwe.

Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm according to medical experts.

It is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Men above 40 years are advised to continually go for tests as they are at higher risk of contracting the disease.

Mr Moyo eventually left Canada for Bulawayo and the first thing he did was call his siblings and bid them farewell.

“I was diagnosed in a first world country and by qualified specialists, so I was certain I was dying. I had to prepare for my death. I even called my pastor, Gershom Mlilo, and asked him to relieve me of my elder duties so that I could focus on my death. In fact, I called all church members and told them I would die anytime,” he adds.

His wife Grace says the last week in Canada was the most traumatic time for the family as Mr Moyo and children were led into forced fasting.

“I used to cry daily and my children did not know what to say. My daughter who was hosting us at one point took us for shopping and forced me to buy a Bible which I laughed off as wasting of money since I was dying.

“We had just had a farewell party from church members but the doctor’s report had just turned our holiday into a nightmare. I remember calling my three children and breaking the news to them which left all of us weeping,” says Mrs Moyo.

She says upon landing in Bulawayo, the family went to their doctor to get a second opinion as the diagnosis was still unbelievable.

The second tests came out positive and that is when we were forced to break off from being in denial. 

Fast forward to 2020, Moyo is fit as a fiddle and runs 5km a day from his Entumbane home.

He still has cancer but has managed to live beyond predictions given when he was first diagnosed of the killer disease.

“I was supposed to die in 2016 but I feel God was not yet done with me. I remember falling very sick in September and thinking that was it; but I lived to tell my testimony.”

Mr Moyo says in December 2016, his sister-in-law referred him to a qualified medical doctor who helps people contain chronic illnesses by changing lifestyles.

“We decided to try a Dr Matanda out as he had already helped a family friend who had cancer. When I went to Chinhoyi I was worn out and couldn’t even walk but I just had to hang onto the fact that maybe God was not yet done with me,” says Mr Moyo.

“Dr Matanda was with me for 10 days and during that time he introduced me to a plant-based diet and exercise as means of improving one’s quality of life.

“I remember of the first day I drank smoothies made out of beetroot, green vegetables and some seeds which is all I needed to be able to walk by the 10th day.”

When Moyo first tested for cancer in 2016, his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) was 112 percent compared to an acceptable normal of 4.

The PSA is a blood test used primarily to screen for prostate cancer and the higher the figure, the more advanced the cancer.

“I recently did a PSA here at home due to Covid-19 and I am happy to say it is now 0,14 percent. Yes, I still take my cancer medication religiously but I know that a changed lifestyle contributed to my second lease of life.”

Mr Moyo adds that cancer is a very expensive disease to cure as the family is forced to use close to US$300 every month for medication.

He says the family lives off his wife’s garden and poultry projects. He is receiving treatment at Mpilo Central Hospital cancer unit.
“When I was first diagnosed, my greatest fear was missing my son’s wedding who is based in the United Kingdom as he was set to wed the following year. I am glad to say that I attended his wedding ceremony in August 2017 where I was given some minutes to cry on my son’s shoulders for some time as I knew I could have died before seeing the day.”

He urged members of the public to lead healthy lifestyles and to remain positive even when they have chronic diseases. Chronicle

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