BOOKS: Story of courage in the fight against cancer

Friday November 15 2019

'A Silent Hero' is the inspiring story of Mektildis Kapinga, a Tanzanian woman who battled cancer for 12 years. PHOTO | TEA


I enjoy reading stories of hope, courage, and positivity, especially those of cancer survivors and how their lives change after diagnosis.

The stories that inspire me the most are about how to live well while dying. Regardless of how the story ends, cancer victims are still victorious.

As Tanzanians joined in the pink race to mark breast cancer awareness in October, Neema Komba, a Tanzanian poet and writer, launched a book on the true story of Mektildis Kapinga, who battled cancer for more than 12 years, living a victorious life before succumbing to the disease in 2015.

'A Silent Hero' is the inspiring story of Kapinga. Her victory lay in how she lived life to the full despite an emotional roller coaster and the dark cloud of death that hung over her for 12 years.

Despite her diagnosis, she pursued her dreams as a teacher; in moments of despair she chose hope, in moments of darkness she chose light, and in moments of doubt she chose to believe.

Cancer did not slow Mama Mapunda—as she was known—down, notes the author: “She was still a dedicated teacher, a doting mother, a loving wife. She was still volunteering in church and taking on responsibilities within her capabilities.”


Her journey with cancer started in 2004, as small lumps appeared on her body. The author explained how Kapinga noticed swellings on her ankle and arm that would disappear after a while.

Not long after, she had one of her breasts removed. A woman’s breasts are a vital part of her femininity and identity and I cannot imagine the pain of her loss. Well, she survived and lived optimistically with one breast.

I thought that at this point she had beaten cancer, but I was wrong. Her first lymph node was removed on October 23, 2008, and the other one on November 13 the same year.

She went through rounds of radiation, chemotherapy, tests and scans and multiple pills, all costing millions. In 2014, she lost her remaining breast.
But the cancer had spread to her spine. She underwent 65 radiation sessions and chemotherapy.

On September 18, 2015 she passed away, leaving behind a dream to help other cancer patients find hope, and to assist those cannot afford medicine.

Earnings from sales of the book will go towards supporting the fight against cancer in Tanzania.