ISPIRATIONAL: Tlamelo has shared her story (Photo by Fify Loewen)
My journey through endemetriosis – Tlamelo’s story
FIFY LOEWEN unpacks Tlamelo’s experience with Endemetriosis, six surgeries and failed IVF.
“I have endometriosis, was diagnosed in 2007, through a laparascopic surgery done at Gaborone Private Hospital. Prior to that, I had been struggling with severe pain. I was diagnosed with (most severe stage) endometriosis.
I got married in 2006, 10 years ago. I was hoping that by now, I would have children. I have been struggling to conceive due to endometriosis for years. I’ve had a total of 6 surgeries; 3 laparascopic surgeries and 3 laparatomys. Surgeries were done both to help with the pain and aid conception. Unfortunately I still haven’t been able to conceive. I was in denial for years, hoping one day I would just fall pregnant. I mean why shouldn’t I? It seemed very easy as most of my friends have children. Countless Pregnancy tests, and failed IVF
I’ve lost count of how many pregnancy tests I’ve done. I used to get anxious and would just go ahead and test without having to wait for a period. The results were always the same, “negative.” I always knew I had the option to do IVF. However, IVF is very expensive and not a definite solution. People spend thousands of Pulas doing IVF, with no guarantee of conception. IVF is also not an easy process; one has to go through painful injections and side effects of IVF medication. It’s a process that can leave one feeling exploited and absolutely miserable.
It is embarrassing to be married and not have kids. You feel like you’ve failed as a woman. The pressure to have kids comes from friends, colleagues and family. It is also impossible to explain to everyone why you cannot have kids. This is a very sensitive matter that I think has been turned into a taboo in our society. To deal with it, I’ve always told people that I was not ready to have children. That way I felt they would leave me alone but they never do.
Finally, in 2015, I decided to give IVF a try. Whilst I knew of the hassle I was getting myself into, I had no idea how bad it was going to be. When you go through IVF, you go into it hoping that you would be one of the lucky few who do it once and achieve a pregnancy but that was not do be for me.
Before I started my IVF journey, I had to go through some surgeries. The last two of the 6 surgeries were two laparatomys. Both times I was told it was necessary, as it would increase chances for success. I was seeing one doctor here in Botswana, who did a few tests and finally removed my blocked tubes and adhesions that I had due to endo. This surgery was done in May 2015.
I was then referred to a clinic in Joburg for my first cycle of IVF. After a terrible ordeal of going through injections and terrible side effects, I did not fall pregnant. It was money down the drain, just like that. Thousands of Pulas gone!
New lab & gynae and how I managed to get 3 embryos frozen
I then decided to see a different gynaecologist, who then referred me to a different lab in South Africa, also a fertility clinic. I did not want to go back to the first lab, my experience there was horrific. I was told by the new lab that my uterus was in a bad state, that there was no way I was going to achieve a pregnancy without an operation.
They also explained that my IVF journey was going to be a little longer than usual because of endometriosis. They explained that for someone with endo, they do not do a fresh embryo transfer but have to freeze embryos so they could allow my system to calm down before the transfer. In November 2015, I went under the knife yet again. I had a laparatomy to remove fibroids and endo attached to my ovaries. Endo is very stubborn, it keeps coming back.
The 2nd lab is more expensive but definitely more advanced and professional. I started my second IVF cycle in January 2016 after recovering from my operation. And yet again, injections and terrible side effects. The Doctors were able to freeze 3 embryos for me.
I feel like I already have 3 babies waiting to be born. I am very hopeful and excited for this cycle. Transfer will be done sometime soon. I cannot wait to hold my babies. Even though I said I’m not a mother, I feel like for as long as my embbies are still alive, though frozen, I am a mother and I worry about them. Juggling work, marriage, and endometriosis and trying to conceive
Finally one may wonder how I am able to juggle marriage, work, endometriosis and trying to conceive. It is not easy but I manage somehow. I have a very demanding job. I work for a local university as Director – Curriculum Development and Quality Assurance. I was recently promoted to this position, after working as a Manager for the last four years. I am very thrilled as this allows me to pay for my very high medical bills. Medical aid does not cover IVF, regardless of the reasons one needs it.
When you have endo, you get a few good days. I work very hard during those good days to cover for the most days when I’m unable to perform my duties at work. That way, I am hardly ever lagging behind. This strategy has helped me to succeed in my job and hence the promotion. I have a very understanding and accommodative employer.
Family, hubby, friends and Lysa keep me going
Above everything, I have a very good support structure, my family, husband and friends. Without them I wouldn’t be able to cope. Friends may not always understand why you are turning down social events. Endo takes a toll on your body. Recently, a support group formed by Gaona Tlhasana and Kgomotso Mpho Gagosi embarked to raise awareness on endometriosis. They organised the first ever endometriosis walk in March 2016. There, I was able to meet other endo warriors and later joined the support group.
We call each other “Endo Sisters” This group has helped me a lot. I’m not as depressed as I used to be. Now I know that, I am not alone. We all go through similar challenges and are able to help each other with ideas and provide support. My friend Lysa was able to join me on the endo walk, which was started at 0500 am; not many people can do that for you. Lysa is my rock. Doing the walk together made us stronger as friends, now she understands what I go through and is able to emphathize with me.
I felt like pouring my heart out, it somehow makes me feel better. I should do this more often, even if no one will read.”
Laparoscopy: is the primary surgical choice for diagnosing and treatment for endometriosis. Laparoscopy involves inserting a tiny telescope connected to a camera called a laparoscope through a small incision in the umbilicus in order to view the reproductive organs.
Laparatomy: more significant form of surgery where a large incision is made in the abdominal wall to actually perform a definitive surgical procedure. It is particularly used where large lumps of endometriosis (endometriomas) form in the ovaries and are difficult to treat with drug therapy or laparoscopic surgery
Fashion makes a statement, which is why Fashion without Borders tries by all means to get all amazing young designers to create dresses to fit every personality- from princess to punk, and everything in between.
Pretty obvious though, the 2020 edition flopped. It didn’t come as a surprise because the taxing COVID-19 pandemic has had overwhelming impacts on almost everything in the world.
Just when we thought Fashion without Borders 2020 will come much better than the previous tedious one, we were floored to see that there was little to no difference. The show was held at the most famous Molapo Crossing Stanbic Piazza, which without doubt was a perfect outdoor venue to host a fashion show, it didn’t however look like it was a fashion show filled with glitz and glam, if anything the show looked more like a public meeting.
The venue lack creativity and unruffled ambience. There were few chairs lined perfectly with a distance of two meters in between as a way of observing COVID-19 health protocols, but it looked more of a wedding than a fashion show.
As if that wasn’t startling enough, some important guests were told that there are no chairs for them to occupy. They had no choice but to stand on their feet the entire two shows, unacceptable and unprofessional for an event of its magnitude.
The Piazza is paved with light brownish small bricks that nearly made half of the models tumble. They kept on trembling, quaking and walking like new born calves, it was painful to watch to say the least. A ramp would have solved this issue.
Fashion without Borders is such a prodigious and immense esteemed fashion event that shouldn’t be seen with lot of glitches, especially that it features international designers from as far as Nigeria. The show was divided into two phases.
Attendees had to purchase two tickets should they want to attend both shows. There wasn’t really much of a difference between the two shows though.Security guards were all over trying to make sure everyone has the right tag for the second show, and people felt hassled.
As always, there were goodie bags with some nice gifts in them to be given to attendees at the fashion show. Some folks got their hands on the gifts and while others left out probably because the providers felt whichever way about that particular person.
I was reliably informed that some of the ‘big’ organizers were on quarantine and only underlings had to dance to the music. Some of them, according to a key witness, irked some members of the media. The media came in great numbers to support the event, like always, only for them to be treated less than.
Some of them left their cameras on and the ‘big’ organizers were not so happy about this from their quarantine centres. We just hope they recovered from the trauma of the COVID-19 contact tracing, as well as the droning, muddled event they threw this year.
In the fashion sense, a lot of folks felt it lacked substance. From the theme itself “The Phygital Experience”, most attendees were already lost, having no clue what it meant or how to respond to it.
Some felt the designers brought collections with less creativity, which spoke with little to no volume, while others were not fascinated by what was physically and digitally presented by the designers and models.
Breast cancer has been a nightmare for most women globally, and according to World Health Organization (WHO), the condition will continue claiming lives of many for years to come.
For Otshepheng Mthimkhulu, a 36-year old police officer at Ramotswa, had her life turned upside down by the illness. It has been a miserable reality getting to know that she has breast cancer, and for the rest of her life, she will be surviving with a single breast.
The small blood stains on her right breast stirred her to go see the doctor, who then recommended pain killers to ease the agony. Not knowing what she is suffering from, Mthimkhulu was told to come for check-up the next month which ultimately failed to give her a diagnosis.
It was only when she was getting seriously concerned about this condition that she followed up on the check-ups for the next six months. After being sent from pillar to post pertaining to mammogram that she was supposed to undergo, she finally got tested at a private hospital where she tested and did a biopsy.
“Unfortunately the results came back and I was told I have a metaplastic carcinoma breast cancer on stage 3,” she said.With her worse fear a reality, Mthimkhulu started her chemotherapy which took eight circles. “After the last circle I decided that I was not going for surgery because at the time, I was on training at the police college.
Lot of questions flocked my mind, lost in thoughts how I am going to face the world with only a single breast. That was the saddest time of my life.”Mthimkhulu had to do mastectomy and start another chemotherapy Herceptin because her hormones tested positive. She did not know what was next, only to be told that the cancer is now in her lungs.
Questions came rising and falling, and no answers were close enough. She was devastated, her dreams were crumpled and her life carried up-side-down. Quizzed on how she survived all the way through, she told Weekendlife that she got a little of inspiration from a series she watched, saying that she learnt that actually, there are other complicated conditions people are suffering and dying from, and cancer can be much better.
“I then started opening up to people and telling them about breast cancer. I earned great support from my close associates, something that gave me hope. At one point I met a woman who introduced me to a fighter group that abetted us with everything we needed.
It was a consecration I must say, because most of us felt much better and alive. Learning that we have breast cancer was just a fairy-tale to us.”They say every woman needs a man. Mthimkhulu found her husband who has been supportive and courageous throughout this journey. She said there are other substantial women who offered artificial breast, wigs and counselling.
No one ever told Mthimkhulu that this will be smooth sailing nor did she expect it to be. She went through overwhelming experiences that made her hopeless at times. According to her, at times her doctor’s appointments would be cancelled last minute. As much as that can be discouraging, she held on nonetheless.
“I started experiencing the side effects of the chemotherapy when I lost my hair, nails and skin complexion. I was always fatigued and stressed most of the times and I was always on sick leave. This was fracturing because I never thought at one point I will be living with cancer,” she said in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Award-Winning Youth Activist, Omphemetse Mmolai, through her organization Berekela Botswana Monana in collaboration with LEGABIBO will be hosting breast cancer survivors, well-wishers, and other relevant stakeholders for breast cancer awareness event in Lobatse this Saturday.
Mmolai told Weekendlife reporter Tlhabo Kgosiemang that there will be a hill climbing exercise meant to sensitize the public about the breast cancer condition, adding that the Lobatse DHMT and LEGABIBO organizations will be having pertinent presentations.
“I have been involved in different activities geared at addressing various issues that affect the youth, women and girls. It is significant to note that these activities were conducted in Lobatse, so this month as it is the time to raise awareness about breast cancer, that will be my main focus.”
Quizzed on why hill climbing, she said this is a way of showing hardships of what breast cancer survivors go through. This is to say they comprehend the circumstances they are being challenged with, and that they are not alone in this fight.
Atasaone Molemogi, who goes by the stage name of A.T.I, is yet again making headlines and trending on social media platforms.
The eccentric and somewhat lose cannon artist is under fire for the stunts he pulled early this year. A.T.I had gone over and above to enlighten and fight for Batswana’s rights against according to him, foreigners who have monopolised the country.
So much so Atasaone recorded a video ranting and hurling insults while in front of Satar Dada’s Motor Centre at Fairground Mall. That was one of his many episodes. However, the one that gave him the ‘struggle icon’ persona was when he was arrested for making a video in front of the State House, this landed the dear lad in the cells of Urban Police Station and later transferred to Central Police Station.
Batswana gathered at the Central Police to demonstrate and demand the maverick be released. A.T.I became the Mandela of Botswana, the voice of the voiceless, the Messiah Batswana needed. A.T.I could not become any bigger till another outspoken personality stepped on the stage, Duma Gideon Boko, lawyer and President of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC).
The aberrant lawyer did not disappoint, especially when he flamboyantly swung his gown on like Superman in front of the press. This was the moment, Botswana’s two outspoken and nonconformists were wearing their capes to save the ordinary citizen from years of being subjected to mediocracy.
Molemogi had Batswana believe that indeed they were being treated unfairly in their own country and incited many to take up arms and fight for a better Botswana for Batswana. The people stood rock solid behind the maverick artist.
That is until A.T.I pulled the rug under their feet and went ahead and met Tumiso Rakgare, Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture. The very same Minister he vehemently declined to meet, hell-bent on only having an audience with the President of Botswana, Mokgweetsi Masisi.
What transpired between Rakgare and A.T.I is not known, but any Tom, Dick and Harry can guess that A.T.I, one way or another, was enticed by something said or done by the Minister because the recluse was as silent as a lamb after the meet.
Now, this publication by no means implies that Rakgare offered Atasaone anything valuable but observing the cries of the masses it may be deducted to something along those lines.All this however happened mid this year and anyone would think that it would be old news and a closed chapter, not to be.
The public cannot for the life of them get over how A.T.I used them to push his agenda and then leave them hanging. A sin unforgiveable in the eyes of Batswana. And so the masses have to have their displeasure made known.
A.T.I has been awarded a new name, Judas Iscariot. The infamous follower of Jesus Christ who sold the latter to the Jews for 30 pieces of silver. Batswana made the reference having deducted that they and their dreams have been sold in the same way Christ was sold off. A.T.I has sabotaged and sold the struggle, for what or how much is still not known.
While people find it hard to understand why ATI threw in the towel, the controversial singer seems unbothered and does not regret anything. He however cited that he is not fond of the name ‘Judas Iscariot’. He further stated that people should understand that it is easy for him to get lost in the midst of everything.
A.T.I shared with this publication that he needed to start somewhere in order to meet the President. He further mentioned to this publication that they discussed how best they can assist the youth and he was telling the Minister about his clothing line, and asking for support from the minister. None of the things mentioned have materialized however.
In his defence he said, “We need to be able to save ourselves before we can be able to save others. People should stop laughing at people who supported me and they should stop calling me Judas Iscariot. The reason why I was going to war when the year began, was because I needed security and I needed our leaders to give me answers.
I was scared I wanted more communication. With time I noticed that I am losing myself. No one told me what to do but I did what I did and I did exactly how l felt it was best,” he said.“A lot of people felt I am their answer, no! I am not anybody’s answer that is why when I was still at it I noticed the saviour mentality. I felt I was back at it again.
I cannot try to save the world all the time. You cannot change the world that don’t see the need to change their mental state.
At the same time the people I am trying to do it for, are still stuck in 89. I did it for the people I needed to do it for and for the truest results to be visible.”