Cancer-stricken girl shunned

HARARE - While other girls of her age enjoy playing house, going to school and hanging out, Tanyaradzwa Masendeke, who suffers from a skin cancer called xeroderma pigmentosum, is confined to the family’s home in Epworth with her mother the only friend she knows.

She was diagnosed with the condition when she was only three months old.

Now aged eight, and living daily with the pain and abuse from an unforgiving society.

Daily, her mother Anna Chirenje, wakes up to tend to the growths on her face, sunburns and irregular dark spots on her.

The agony of seeing the small child writhing in excruciating pain has been worsened by the ill-treatment she is getting from society.

Yearly, she has to travel to South Africa for operations, a costly medical routine that usually leaves the already poor family poorer.

“Tanyaradzwa is the third born in a family of four. The second born had succumbed to the same disease at the age of four.

“Now, Tanyaradzwa is eight but is not going to school mainly owing to the treatment she is receiving from the society. She is discriminated and looked down upon. People have different opinions (myths) about the causes of the disease,” Chirenje told the Daily News on Sunday.

Veteran medical doctor Boniface Manyame, through his Medical Encyclopaedia Denhe Reutano Neurapi, states that xeroderma pigmentosum in some people come as a result of hereditary.

“Neighbours discourage their children to play with Tanyaradzwa fearing they can contract the disease, which is not the case,” said Chirenje.

As a result, Tanyaradzwa is always lonely.

In search of salvation, Chirenje who lives in the poor township of Epworth has on countless occasions visited different prophets and traditional healers but none has provided any solution.

“Society blames the family for Tanya’s condition. Some believe that the family is being fixed for stealing people’s belongings which is not the case while others are of the opinion that the family was trying to use traditional medicines to get-rich-quickly (kuromba zvikwambo).

“We have since stopped consulting n’angas and prophets after noticing that the child’s condition was getting worse as we ended up spending the better part of the day exposed in the sun waiting for deliverance which did not come.”

Chirenje, whose husband is employed as a security guard, is now pleading for help from well-wishers for both moral and financial support.

“I am her only friend and this has confined me to stay at home. I cannot even afford to run self-sustaining projects like vending among others. As a family we plead to well-wishers for financial help towards Tanya’s medication and upkeep as she needs special diet, clothes, toys, lotions (sunscreens) and to hire a home tutor,” she said.

Despite the stigmatisation Chirenje said Tanyaradzwa and her late sister are the first victims of the disease in the family.

“Medical practitioners told us that the condition is hereditary but both families — Chirenje and Masendeke — first witnessed this condition through Tanyaradzwa and her late sister,” she said.

According to a health website Cancer.Net, xeroderma pigmentosum is a hereditary condition that can be passed from generation to generation in a family.

The disease is associated with neurologic problems including learning disabilities, progressive hearing loss, progressive neuromuscular degeneration, loss of some reflexes, and occasionally, poor eyesight and tumours in the central nervous system among other challenges.

“People with xeroderma pigmentosum are extremely sensitive to ultra-violet (UV) radiation. Exposure to even a very small amount of UV radiation leads to severe sunburn and blistering, beginning at a very young age.

“The sensitivity to UV radiation results in increased freckling, as well as areas of lighter (hypo) skin pigmentation. They also have very dry skin.

“There is a high risk of squamous cell and basal cell skin cancers and melanoma. People with xeroderma pigmentosum also have eye problems, especially with the eyelids. Like their skin, their eyes are also very sensitive to light, which gives them a slightly increased risk of cancer of the eye.

“Cancers of the lips, mouth, and the tip of the tongue have also been reported. In addition, people with Xerodermia pigmentosum may have neurological complications, including developmental disabilities, mental handicap, and high-frequency hearing loss that lead to deafness,” read the website.

Comments (12)

Hi Daily News Team please advise the parents to go and see The African Apostolic Church members.Vamwe vanoti chechi yekwa Mwazha

JACOB MUCHEMWA - 3 October 2016

Please ask the family to reach out to us and see our website www.teddingtontrust,com so we can sign-post them to some support for XP

Teddington Trust - 3 October 2016

i will pray for her she will be fine in no time

TOPGUY - 3 October 2016

i will pray for her she will be fine in no time

TOPGUY - 3 October 2016

i will pray for her she will be fine in no time

TOPGUY - 3 October 2016

We are judged as a nation if a society in which this girl lives is "unforgiving" as the writer puts it. This kind of mentality is ancient. People with minds anchored in ancient beliefs make life unbearable for a girl already burdened by her physical condition. This is not right. As humans we gotta to have compassion and the intrisic urge to help people like this girl: that what differentiate humans from animals. Its sad that in our societies (let alone in our government of the people) we do not have active departments to take care of such unfortunate members of our society. I used to think that people elected in government are there to serve people in the communities which elect them. In Zimbabwe it appears we elect people in government so that we can be our masters to whom we will render our services. I can excuse people for being dump on this aspect but having no compassion for this girl is tantamount to endorsing the bush in people`s minds - worse than what foreigners used to call dark Africa.

Masamba Akareyo - Tanganda - 3 October 2016

with God nothing is impossible she needs prayers

khu - 3 October 2016

with God nothing is impossible she needs prayers

khu - 3 October 2016

Ngavaende naye kuThe African Apostolic Church inonzi nevazhinji church ye kwaMwazha. Zvinopera.

Mai Muparidzi - 4 October 2016

Ngavaende naye kuThe African Apostolic Church inonzi nevazhinji church ye kwaMwazha. Zvinopera.

Mai Muparidzi - 4 October 2016

Can you please forward contact numbers of the parents,i wish to donate something towards her cause

Joe - 4 October 2016

can we not copy initiatives like in SA where the mobile operators sends a message of such situations to subscribers and request a donation of say 10 cents. Imagine if 50 000 people decide to donate it really could ease the pressure on the parents or guardians in such situations.

zvazviri - 5 October 2016

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