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How Tlhaselo defeated cancer

For many women, the telling sign for breast cancer would be a lump in the breast, but for Matshidiso Tlhaselo, 43, she knew something was wrong when her infant refused her breast milk 15 years ago. It would be 12 years before she was finally diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, but the mother of two says she always felt something was wrong with her right breast.

She underwent various tests thereafter, she visited Princess Marina Hospital but the tests showed nothing was wrong with her, but she had discharge from the breast. She went on with her life with the condition.

The drastic decision not to breastfeed her second born could be what saved her life. She recalls that when she had her second child in March 2013 she already knew she didn’t want to breastfeed, primarily because of her first child refusing to suckle. She immediately informed her doctors at Bamalete Lutheran Hospital that she didn’t want to breast feed and she was immediately given tablets she was told would stop her breast milk production.

Five months later though, the milk had not stopped and her right breast had developed a lump-its colour had also changed. Initially she thought it was resultant of her milk ducts clogging from her not breastfeeding. But she woke up to severe pain from the same breast one morning and was rushed to BLH where she was admitted and further tests were conducted. The mammogram showed nothing, as did other tests conducted at the time. She was informed of the results but was told more lab tests will be done at Ootse College, where an X-Ray was done and the results still showed nothing. She was prescribed pain killers and was sent back home.

In September of the same year, just towards the Independence holidays, the lump in her breast was growing bigger such her brother in law advised her to go further and seek medical attention at Bokamoso Private Hospital. In her first consultation, the doctor she saw, after inspecting the growth in her breast referred her to a specialist, but she had to wait until after the holidays before she could see him.

Immediately after the holidays, the specialist at Bokamoso ordered for a biopsy to be done. She asked that it be done immediately, during her first visit. The doctor immediately used a syringe to remove tissue sample from the breast. She had to come back after 7 days for the results.

 “I was at work when I received a call from Dr. Alemu’s secretary after those seven days. She told me to hurry to his office. Immediately when I got to his office, I was told that the results showed that the lump was cancerous. My body left me at that moment, it was as if the world turned upside down instantly,” Tlhaselo revealed.

Yet another referral as Dr. Alemu referred her to oncology. Thus her harrowing journey with cancer treatment began. She precisely recalls the date she started chemotherapy, on October 18. She had to do eight circles of chemotherapy, the first four before the lump removal and the last after the surgery.

But for Tlhaselo, her mind was made up-she wanted a total mastectomy. 

“I told the doctors that I had done my research, and honestly I felt that I had gone through so much because of the breast and I wanted it removed. I really did not want to chance the cancer recurring.”

In January of 2015, she underwent the surgery to remove her whole right breast. After recovering from the surgery, she went back for her last four rounds of chemo.

“Chemo was very hard. I was counselled about all the side effects, and I had my fair share of them. I lost my hair and went totally bald. I only started regrowing my hair last year around June or July. My white blood cell would drop-one time I had to be admitted because the doctor told me that it was only by God’s grace that I was able to even reach the hospital alive,” Tlhaselo related to Weeked Life.

She likens her days during chemo to pregnancy, but the symptoms are perhaps tenfold worse, for the most part the nausea and vomiting, the general failure to hold anything down and even loss of appetite for up to four days.

“I can never forget how painful chemo was, particularly because of “red devil”, I never want to think back on it because it seemed the worst of all, and made me feel sicker.”

The red devil is an agent of chemotherapy agent used to treat many kinds of cancer, including breast, lung, ovarian, and bladder cancer.  It's also often called Doxorubicin, which is the generic name. Adriamycin is its brand name.

Adriamycin/Doxorubicin is often used as part of combination chemotherapy regimens, when treating breast cancer it's often part of a three-part regimen known as ACT, which stands for Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Taxol.

Red devil’s profile of side effects include: low white blood cell count, low red blood cell count, low platelets, hair loss and mouth sores.

Recently, Adriamycin has come under fire because studies show it can have a toxic effect on the heart muscle, leading to heart failure.

After she finished her chemotherapy, she had to endure 6 weeks of radiation, undergoing sessions daily.

Now, almost a year later, she uses a bra insert, albeit in smaller size.

“I had to stuff some things in there for a while before someone hinted to me about breast forms that were available at Marina. They are free for most patients but for some who mostly were treated at private institutions get them at a fee.”

The cancer has not returned, and although she doesn’t believe her life has changed in anyway after the cancer was discovered, she is still on tamoxifen and zoladex

Tamoxifen has been used for over 40 years to treat breast cancers that are hormone-receptor positive. Because breast cancers need the hormone oestrogen (and/or progesterone) to grow, Tamoxifen attaches to the hormone receptor in the cancer cell, blocking oestrogen from attaching to the receptor. This slows or stops the growth of the tumour by preventing the cancer cells from getting the hormones they need to grow.

Zoladex is a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonist. Zoladex works by stopping the ovaries from making oestrogen.

According to the national cancer registry, breast cancer is the third commonest killer cancer after Kaposi sarcoma and cervical cancer in Botswana.

Meanwhile, the Cancer Association of Botswana will hold the 10th Annual Stilletto walk on 28 October to raise breast cancer awareness as well as to raise funds for the cause.

According to Sharon Munyoro, CAB Director said that preparations are well underway for the next stiletto walk which will take place in Railpark.

She said in an interview on Wednesday that during the event, there will also be breast checks, along with the walk. “Instead of P200 we are doing P100 per person, we are working more with accessibility more than anything this year.”

Last year, CAB launched the “Know Your Breast” campaign in Phikwe. This year it will be commemorated and Munyoro said this year Gaborone will also be brought on board.

In terms of the battle against cancer, Munyoro said that Botswana has come a long way. She said that government efforts are showing, especially with the National Cervical Cancer Strategic Prevention Programme being rolled out countrywide. She however feels that the country should have in place cancer guidelines and policies that could help curb cancer.

The greatest challenge with the fight against breast cancer, she said, was mainly getting men on board, as they mostly believe they don’t have breasts and therefore should not do the breast checks or mammograms as women.

“Men are generally hard to deal with whenever any health topic is brought up, they need to change and be more active to seek health facilities.”

The whole of October is reserved for cancer awareness worldwide.

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WeekendLife

Why men don’t pardon cheating partners

18th January 2021
Cheating-marriage

It goes without saying that men and women handle pain differently. Especially emotional pain. Men tend to be more emotionally immature compared to women when it comes to matters of the heart.

It is for this reason that men do not handle break ups or cheating as well as their counterparts. Where women have been groomed from a young age to express their emotions men have been told to “suck it up and be a man”. This may be one of the reasons why men are unable to express their emotions. It’s therefore that it can be a tad bit surprising that men cheat the most but are the weakest to deal when cheated on.

Research has proven that men find it difficult to digest being cheated on. British Psychotherapist, Philip Hodson opines that men find it hard to forgive cheating because it affects their masculinity, and to them, it might signal the end of the relationship.

“Men can forgive themselves for their indiscretions, but they find it much harder to forgive their partners for the same. For a betrayed woman, an affair by a man is an offence against her dignity, but for a betrayed man, a woman’s infidelity is an offence against his manhood. It goes right to the core of his identity,” said Hodson.

WeekendLife also interviewed a few gentlemen on their honest feeling about being cheated and if they find it hard to forgive their partners after cheating.  Tinashe Mangiroza said, “From the beginning, men are designed with the potential to have and to reproduce with many spouses. Women on the other hand are more or less designed to focus on one man. Along with this natural design, women have stronger pain tolerance. Yes women feel pain when cheated on, but their tolerance is much higher than that of a man (in view of what I said above).”

“And men on the other hand have a low emotional pain tolerance, hence the higher suicide and murder rates among men. Then remember there’s also the ego element which men have. So when you combine a big ego, low pain tolerance and other things such as selfishness and competing with other men, it almost ends a man’s self-worth when a woman he loves decides to sleep with another man.”

He admits to have been cheated on before which he said it took away his self-esteem and he had to sleep around as a way of easing the pain whilst waiting to heal. Another gentleman who was also cheated at some point, Monwabisi Ndumiso Mgenge, highlighted that when a woman cheated on him it becomes very difficult for him to take her back because loyalty is everything to him.

“This is because most of the times relationship involves sex. You see the person naked you enjoy that, you don’t want anybody having what you have. You are emotionally invested and have imagined the future many times and this is why some get violent cause its trauma really.”

Psychologist at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye said, “when it comes to marriage, men and women see things differently. He pointed out that a man tends to see the woman as possession, and so, the moment somebody else tries to cross the boundary and interferes with his property, there is bound to be serious problem.”

“So, it is not because women don’t care or they forgive so easily, but the circumstances don’t favour them as they favour men. If women were in a dominant position, they easily would have driven the man away. So, the moment a female has committed herself to marriage, for her to voluntarily and openly get out of it becomes a kind of stigma, and women cannot handle stigma, particularly where children are involved. Mothers would not want to walk away, unless it’s beyond their powers, thus they would rather endure.”

Thabiso Cavin Bogopa, an Empowerment Expert also shared with WeekendLife that men are wired different from women hence their response to cheating won’t be the same. “What may prove to be a difficulty in men forgiving cheating is that, generally speaking men sleep with who they can, women sleep with who they want, so the overarching thing becomes she cheated with her desire, the person she is actually attracted to and the cheated man struggles with that truth, as he realizes that sex for him is opportunity based, while for his counterpart is a deliberate and conscious choice.

This to a certain extent is what forms the challenge for men,” he explained. “Cheating devalues an individual both the cheater and cheated on, but more profoundly manifest in the cheated as they start to decrease in their self-esteem, losing their regard for themselves as they are undermined they may begin to try to address this trauma in multiple ways but more commonly through being exactly what they detest because they are stuck in the experience, they therefore cheat and become messed up.”

“No one gets away with cheating even if you never get caught, you become depleted as a person by the lies, trickery and illicit emotional trade. But if we may, the choice to forgive a cheating partner is a personal choice that goes both ways.”

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WeekendLife

Modelling| Fashion| Etiquette

18th January 2021
Emmanuel Kayenda

It takes more than just having the body for the ramp to be an “it girl/boy” in the industry. A lot hows into being the cream de la cream. This includes intense coaching and being fortified to thrive in Botswana’s modelling industry as well as making a name for yourself beyond boarders.

No doubt that the likes of Kaone Kario, Mmina Gaebonwe and Emmanuel Kayenda are household names today because of their well-crafted talent. Which needs to be passed on even to aspiring models. Raymond Geofrey an Editor and Content Creator at Vogue magazine who is also known for his Pan African story telling through photography, shared with WeekendLife about what it means and what it takes to be an all-round model, who is capacitated to make a living from their craft.

“Models need good etiquette and good communication especially when dealing with clients reaching to them. They should be able to professionally communicate with them. They need to be efficient in their communication. Professionalism also entails time management during bookings, shootings and auditions. Models should always be early by 1 hour 30 minutes. Enquire about contracts and make contact with consultants. This also include seeking legal advice,” he said.

“Models should have business cards and business WhatsApp numbers. They should possess a good social media account such as Facebook pages with clear biographies. Posts should be sponsored.” Knowing how to transcend the ramp as a model is one of the things that is always a big deal to models and agencies. Geofrey highlighted that models ultimately must know how to walk spectacularly on the runway. When it comes to posing, models are often expected to kill it and bring their A game which in turn will help shine their personality.

Geofrey said models do not take time to read and study as well as research about posing. The more models are confident the more they are able to bring out their personalities on the shoot. He said self-awareness is also imperative, as models are required to be aware of themselves. When wearing heels and walking down the ramp, they should catwalk to the beat.

When it comes to the modelling industry in Botswana, they normally complain about numerous things which are pushing the industry backward. One of these he said is industrialization and policy making, the most lacking and key factors in need in the sector. “The modelling industry in Botswana is still not industrialized that is there are no laws or policies currently in Botswana to govern the trade of modelling in Botswana. Modelling is still not a legal registered profession in Botswana,” he said.

“Affiliation of local agencies to global/international modelling agencies; we have seen a rise in business revenue with regards to fashion modelling in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya etc, due to the fact that they are exporting a larger number of models overseas to walk at fashion shows like Paris Fashion Week. This is simply because they have affiliations, partnerships with agents/bookers/agencies based in fashion capitals of the world (Paris, London, Milan & New York).”

Lack of etiquette which he said is rather unprofessional, is one of the things that hold back local models. “A lot of models in the country still walk unranked at shows (New faces, freelance, full time, professional, international model etc). Also models lack training in the art of modelling (posing, runway, social media training, and business acumen.”

In the age of brand ambassadors, models have been key in this aspect in making brands known and marketable. Even so, they are many slots that define and categorize modelling work. “Fashion models are usually booked for shows or by designers. Editorial are more for official print/brand work such as for magazines (print/online), websites, blogs etc. Commercial are more on promoting business services of institutions, government or the private sector (including banking institutions, insurance, services providers etc). Fitness models are for promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, we see them booked by professionals sports/athletes/gym brands or the food & health industry (what is popular now is supplements such as herbal life),” he explained.

Like other countries, where models are paid a leg and an arm, the same should be incorporated in Botswana instead of exploiting them. “By respecting what models do and bring to the table; and you do that by paying them what they deserve on time,” Geofrey said. Geofrey is currently running classes for models called ‘Etiquette Class Models’ which offers runway coaching. It equips models with different types of walks. They also offer social media training and mentoring on running as a model entrepreneur.

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WeekendLife

LERAPO: Becoming a radio host and property analyst

12th January 2021
Thabiso Tshwenyana

Thabiso Tshwenyana is certainly a bright spark. He has been hitting the books, at the same time pushing hustle on radio! Well, you may not know who I’m talking about right now unless I refer to him as ‘Lerapo’, or ‘Bundle of Joy ya Radio’, as he is commonly called by his aficionados on radio.

Lerapo is resolute on taking over the entertainment and broadcasting space, of course wearing many hats as a radio host, content producer and a socialite. Not only that, he is a fresh Real Estate graduate currently functioning as a property analyst.

One may wonder how this young lad (currently 23-years-old) managed to be on radio, at the same time pursuing his Degree in Real Estate. Well, he says it took grit, time management and really doing what one likes. And he is right, because in today’s world anyone can call themselves a presenter. But it takes unparalleled skill, unbreakable determination, and heaps of talent to captivate an audience of millions.

Whether or not you think he’s the best, there’s no arguing that Lerapo is possibly the most prominent young radio presenter to hail from the Botswana. Initially starting his career in 2017, Lerapo earned himself a reputation as ‘Bundle of Joy ya Radio’ by consistently pushing the boundaries of what could be said and done.

His shows consists of outrageous humor and youthful content that’s shocking the radio establishment, and taking young people to cloud 9. The show is called The Youth Café on Duma FM, and airs every Saturday between 2PM and 2PM, broadcasting in vernacular.

When sharing with Weekendlife his startling life on radio and how he will be turning it down this year, he says the journey started back in 2017 at RB2 where he hosted a 30-minute feature. “I am definitely a go-getter. I love radio and this has been my childhood dream! I held onto this dream and survived against all odds. I am happy to be on radio because after all the knockings, snubs and distressing coercions, I persisted nonetheless. Sometimes it was just a matter of being at the right place at the right time.”

Before joining Duma FM in 2019, he was a content producer at yet another youthful urban radio station Yarona FM. At the age of 23-years old, Lerapo has worked at three radio stations, both government and private urban stations. Remarkable! For someone aspiring to be on radio, I can confidently say he is the pluq for inspiration and familiarity.

He continued to dish more on what radio really needs, saying “Taking time to perfect the craft, being open to learn from others and just digging down on books and the internet on how radio works did magic to me. It became easier to comprehend fully what I needed and how to go about getting it.”

Being a radio presenter means having a whole team prior to going on air. This means having a show prep, and reflecting on how the show went down with your producers or programs manager. Programs manager handles the business of the radio station and leave the voice and personality to the presenter.

Presenters have to follow rules of the programs manager even if they may not see eye-to-eye. They may prefer to play safe and repeat music even though sometimes a presenter prefers to take a risk and make changes to the music. Nevertheless, the success of the radio station lies in programs manager’s hands.

“After a show I usually have a reflection on how it went then I plan for the next show. On Tuesdays I have what we call an ‘air check’ with either the programs manager or his assistant to identify hiccups on the previous show and see how best to work on them to have a great delivery on the next show. Since I produce my own show, I give them a preliminary show prep. Once approved, I start contacting guests to be featured on the show and later share the final show prep a day before the show airs with the bosses.”

Still on his show, he does live reads. These are paid adverts that he discusses with the marketing department prior to his show going live. Well, as for a sizzling playlist, the music compiler knows how to serve him right.

He says a great radio hosts listens, reads and makes a show about the listener. ‘A common mistake we make as radio hosts is that we make the show about us and tend to feel that we know more than the listener. We also ought to respect the listener, these are our clients after all. Radio hosts should also refrain from relying on social media for content, most of it is fake and unverified by relevant authorities.”

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