Senior Arts Reporter
October is breast cancer awareness month and Makosi Musambasi is one celebrity who has come out with a message of hope about how she has lived with the disease.
The former Big Brother United Kingdom contestant and television personality has defied odds in her fight against breast cancer.
Makosi, who turned 40 last week, said she had cancer at 36 and encouraged women to start cancer screening at 35.
She broke new ground when she became the first Zimbabwean to catwalk on the prestigious Runway Dubai, even after her diagnosis.
The Runway Dubai Fashion Show held in 2018 at Marriott Hotel Al Jaddaf, featured catwalk presentations, fashion talent contest, brand exhibitions and musical performances from around the globe.
After having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, Makosi is not yet in the clear even after aggressively fighting the disease through chemotherapy. She still has to go for routine blood tests after every three months.
In an interview with The Herald Arts, Makosi said it takes courage and discipline to fight cancer.
“I noticed a lump in my breast in August 2016 and everything happened so fast, from discovering the lump and dealing with the shock of how it got there, up to the last day of radiation,” she said.
“I only got diagnosed in February 2017 and I was just numb. I was not ready. I was still getting over the fact that the lump was there in the first place. My doctor called to say it was cancer after my midweek church service.
“I had to have more surgery and after my second meeting with the oncologist, that is when what was happening kicked in. I remember coming out of the doctor’s office, falling on my knees just outside MacDonald’s Restaurant in Sandton, South Africa.”
At that point, Makosi had come to terms with reality, but she could not bear the thought of breaking the news to her family as she feared their reaction.
“My thoughts were on how I would tell my parents that I might be dying,” she said. “My dying was not a big deal to me, but no parent should ever bury their child. How to tell them was a challenge. During such times one cannot think about oneself or what adventures you have not had, I kept wondering how I would tell them.
“I did not tell them what was happening at first, but my mom stalks me on social media, so she saw my surgery post. She called, asking me what was going on and I told her everything was under control. I did not want them to know how bad it was.”
Makosi could not bear the fact of burdening her family with her problems.
“I kept telling my family that having breast cancer was not much of a big deal,” she said. “I did not discuss my fears, nor did I visit the doctor with any of them. I am glad everything worked out, imagine if it had not. You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have.
“Chemotherapy was the worst. I honestly thought it was my time to die, but my parents moved in with me at that time and it
made life easier for me.
“My mother held my hand through every session, and my hair falling out was not even the worst thing about the process. During the time I had chemotherapy I kept to myself, mostly in my room alone and to be honest, my parents must have been scared by how I looked, but as a family we never discussed death, I could not allow it.”
Makosi still lived her life to the fullest whenever she could regardless of everything that was going on.
“Even with my bald head, I still wore my makeup and rocked it,” she said. “Up to this day, the fact that cancer dared me still sits at the back of my mind. I eat very carefully now and I will only get in the clear after four years, so in the meantime I have blood tests every three months and I live to fight another day.”
Makosi said gracing Runway Dubai gave her a positive outlook to life.
“Then there came that thrilling experience, Runway Dubai was so much fun,” she said. “What a privilege! So I had just landed in Dubai from Johannesburg, my good friend, Laurie Idahosa, called me saying she was coming to Dubai for a week and because I was so tired, nothing more was discussed that day.
“When I called her back, she said she was doing Runway Dubai and wondered if I would like to do it for her friend Nkechi. I was Miss Mashonaland East in 1998 and went on to contest for Miss Zimbabwe, so this was exactly 20 years later, how time flies. But Runway Dubai was the best experience of my life.”
In an interview with Khaleej Times, the founder of Runway Dubai, Modupe Omonze, said Makosi wanted to send a message of positivity.
Makosi is in the process of identifying schools were she can donate sanitary wear as part of her philanthropic work under her Sisters Keepers Foundation.