If you’ve been to the Book Café, it’s more than likely that you’ll have been served by Talent Yakado. Whisking around the often-busy venue, taking orders and making customers feel at home, her happy demeanor belies the ordeal that she has had to go through. After the birth of her third child, Talent (34) found out that she had the signs of cervical cancer.
The experience that followed is one that is all too familiar for many people in this country – the difficulty of raising cash for simple tests and treatments, the fear that if you don’t you are doomed and a grindingly slow health-care system that can seem far from sympathetic.
With the help of friends, a supportive husband and her own persistence, Talent managed to pull through. The chances that she’ll succumb to cervical cancer are now slim. Her struggle has made her determined to help the many other women who are facing a similar experience. That’s why she’s set up Tanyaradzwa Cancer Trust – We’ve been blessed – an organisation that raises awareness and advocates for affordable tests and immunization of the girl-child against HPV (Human Papillomavirus), which can cause cancer of the cervix.
We met with Talent to ask her some questions about the work she is planning to do in the community.
When did you decide to set up Tanyaradzwa?
I was asking myself, why did I get cervical cancer? I asked so many questions to God. I thought there must be a reason why I went through this. I should do something. I prayed and fasted for two weeks and I dreamt of a lot of things. This idea came to me that I should help other women out there.
Who is involved?
I am working with Cyril Sanhehwe and Bono Choga. I met them at work one day and told them my vision. They said it was a great idea and they could help me. We started having meetings, writing proposals, meeting people. I had to balance my work as a waitress and this work. But I am managing.
What is the plan?
We are already registered. We will be offering information dissemination, counselling, and advocacy for cancer campaigns. We are partnering with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare. In the long run we are going to have a centre for training. And we will have a mobile clinic – we want to take the hospital to the people. Some of the clinics are very far from the homes in the rural areas. We want to bridge this gap.
What are the challenges?
Funding is a problem at the moment. And also getting people involved – you tell people and they say this is good, but what do they do about it – do they support you? do they want to join forces? Our government should also reduce the pap smear price. We really need to change the way we view this problem – we need to look at the healthy side – you can’t be a mother when you are sick and not healthy. This world needs healthy mothers.
What is your message to women who might be concerned they are at risk?
I say you should go for a pap smear. If you go early, we can beat this disease. It is a disease that is so silent inside us. It can grow for years and years without us knowing. The symptoms don’t always tell us that we have cancer. You feel tired some of the time, back pains, hip pains. These are some of the symptoms we have when our periods come. So you should have a check up every year. And make sure your daughters do too.
Find Tanyaradzwa on Facebook or email Talent at firstname.lastname@example.org.