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A village awakens to a mother’s plea

LERATO MALEKE
Fighting on: Abbie's condition is presently stable
In 1914, “the shot heard around the world,” sparked the First World War. One hundred years later, a mother sounded the cry heard around the village. Mmegi Correspondent, LERATO MALEKE traces the ensuing battle

Last year, a Mochudi woman named Tiny Ntshabele, made a sacrifice only a mother can make. She sold her house, her home, in order to raise funds for a life-saving operation for her daughter, Abian, more commonly known as ‘Abbie’.

Returning from her job in the United Kingdom at the end of 2013, Tiny found Abbie’s tummy a strange, round shape. The first thing that came into her mind was that her daughter may be pregnant and she whisked Abbie to the doctor for examination.

At Metro Clinic, General Medical Practitioner Dr Ntlhe Seketeme equally suspected that the then 13-year-old might be on the well-travelled path to teenage motherhood.

Seketeme recalls that during the consultation, Abbie was relaxed, open and even jovial.

“The question that remained was  ‘what then is this coming out from her pelvis like a pregnancy’?” says Seketeme.

A subsequent pregnancy test emerged negative before an ultrasound scan confirmed a complicated mass tumour coming out from her left ovary.

Within five days, Seketeme had confirmed that far from a pregnancy, they were dealing with a more menacing tumour located in Abbie’s pelvis.

“We then realised that we had a big job on our hands and needed specialists who could help treat this unfortunate girl,” he said.

The doctor made a series of phone calls to various specialists and eventually roped in the Princess Marina Hospital team to take care of her.

Abbie was operated on and her tumour marker or blood tests used to monitor cancer activity, appeared to be dropping. However, it was not long before the matter took a dark turn.

“The laboratory diagnosis of the tumour had confirmed an ovarian immature teratoma, a rare cancer,” says Seketeme.

“Unfortunately within a few months, her tumour marker started to climb and that this was not good news at all.

“She was re-evaluated and was found to have

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the tumour in her pelvis again and also near the liver and abdomen.”

The girl underwent chemotherapy during which she lost her hair “but never lost her smile”, says the doctor.  However, the cancer proved stubborn and Tiny began looking at the United Kingdom as a potential safe haven with higher standards of health care and the right treatment.

Tiny sold her property, took all her savings and those of her relatives and flew her daughter to the UK. 

Lady luck again deserted the family when UK doctors said they could not help Abbie.

Undeterred, Tiny conducted thorough research on the rare tumour and found contacts in China where an operation can be done. The cost of the operation, however, at approximately P500,000 was too steep for Tiny and her relatives.

Necessity being the mother of invention, a sympathetic pool of well-wishers joined the family and launched a massive fundraising initiative beginning in the UK, then into Botswana and most recently on home ground through an event held in Abbie’s village of Mochudi. At the fundraiser, held over the weekend, Abbie’s aunt, Banabotlhe revealed that the efforts towards raising the mammoth sums for the operation are presently proceeding well.

The event, held at a Spar outlet in the Kgatleng District capital, attracted scores of well-wishers eager to help out one of their own.

“Some gave cash while others pledged to donate,” says Abbie’s aunt.

“However, we are still far from reaching the P500,000 required for the operation.” Banabotlhe says in the meantime, Abbie is in a stable condition in a London flat.  Tiny has also brought over her mother, Abbie’s grandmother, to provide support.

“Our dream is to see Abbie well, having been operated in China,” she says. “She would have been sitting for her Primary School Leaving Examinations this year at Raserura English Medium.”



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