Its not everyday that you meet someone who is been through hell but is still full of life and love. Her passion for life is beautiful. She is love, she is beauty, light and joy. She got so much passion for everything that she does, I was drawn to this woman by her beauty, love, honesty and resilience. I hope after reading this, you will view life differently and you will find beauty in the things that shatter you, you will want to live your best life, you will view women differently and will have the strength to fight your way to living life to the fullest.
Stylist: Nollie Ngwira
Photography: kMoe Foto
Makeup Artist: Bojelo Marari
Art Direction: T A N L U M E
1.Please tell us about yourself?
My name is Tebogo Ngele. I was born and raised in Gaborone South, Ext 14 township, Babusi Ward, ko Kofifi . I am a very simple girl who loves little things in life. I love LOVE. Self confidence, self love and self respect defines me. I am a woman of many hats. I am a daughter, sister, aunt, grandmother, business owner, employee, friend and most importantly a child of God because it is only through him that I can wear any of my hats.
- When and how did you find out that you have cervical cancer?I went for a normal, medical checkup and pap smear towards the end 2012. This was after more than a year without doing pap smear. My health was a mess that year because I was first diagnosed with obesity, my blood pressure was too high as well as my insulin level. I was a ticking bomb waiting to explode. I weighed 136kg and I wore size 24 after using an industrial scale. Bathroom scale couldn’t handle my weight. My doctor gave me 5 months to shed some weight and come back to check on my BP and insulin level.
I did my pap smear that day and my doctor called after 5 days which was very weird because she has never done that before. She always waits for my next appointment to give me results. I went to see her and I could sense that there was bad energy in the room. She then told me that my results have shown that there are abnormal cells in my cervix and she should do more tests which included another pap smear and later on colposcopy and cervical biopsy.
- What were your main concerns after being diagnosed?I was therefore diagnosed with cervical cancer stage 1A1 after my colposcopy & cervical biopsy, which is the earliest stage of cervical cancer. The first thing that came to my mind when I was diagnosed was that there was no way I could have cancer because I didn’t feel like someone who was sick. Secondly, death! I was still dealing with obesity and now I had this scary thing to deal with. I went through deep depression. I went through all sorts of emotions. There was a time in my life when I just wanted to give up because I felt really tired but I had resilient support from my doctors, family and amazing small circle friends.
- How did you cope emotionally?I didn’t tell lots of people except close loved ones because I wanted to fight my own way without people feeling sorry for me. I prayed for strength only from God to fight everything. God gave me that strength and His support and I managed to do all my treatments without any worry. I went through everything with my head up high and a huge smile because I knew God was holding my hand throughout…. Even my doctors were amazed by my strength and resilience. Most of the time, I would go for my appointments alone because I didn’t want to stress my beautiful parents. I wouldn’t even tell them about the results.
All the doctors recommended cone biopsy for treatment since I was on the early stages and I wanted to keep my fertility. However I intend to do hysterectomy when I am done having children. I did cone biopsy which removed the cancer cells on my cervix.
I have continued to do my pap smears and a coloscopy after my surgery (cone biopsy)and the results have been clear ever since. I still continue to go for my regular six monthly pap smears and other checkups. I don’t miss a single check-up.
- How did you change your lifestyle after being diagnosed?I made healthier choices, eat better, rest, exercise and I never miss my medical checkup. I managed to lose weight, from size 24 to a super sexy size 14. I laugh louder, hug harder, smile bigger, love deeper, kiss longer *blushes*. I tell my loved ones how much I love them daily. I spend more time with my loved ones. I protect my loved ones with my life. I am a ball of happiness. KE A TSHELA!
The whole thing brought me closer to God. It resurrected my beautiful relationship with God. It made me calmer and focused, IT SAVED MY LIFE. It made me the strong woman I am today. God gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers. It’s all his GRACE. All my love, my heart, my life is a testimony.
6.Do you really think women support each other?
- I have seen women bring each other down because of envy and I have also seen some support each other as they climb the ladder of success. But we need to encourage more support for one another to ensure women empowerment.
- in a lot of the cases we as women don’t stand for each other, but I also think this is nothing to do with genders but with the way we are conceiving the “rules of the game” in the society, we are always taught to be THE best, the richest, the strongest, the skinniest, the prettiest and so on, we need to stop teaching generations to compare themselves with others but to create together, to strive to be the best version of THEMSELVES and to aim to build better societies and places to live, because overall we are all on the same path to achieve happiness.
7. What inspires you?
I am inspired by my beautiful parents, Mr. & Mrs. Ngele
Dad, The first best guide I could ever get…. He is like a coach to me who would push me through extreme conditions while still being gentle with me all the times. My dad is still a hard working man at 76yrs old. It was from my dad whom I learned how to live life while keeping my head up. He taught me to follow the path of love, honesty and integrity. My dad believes in EDUCATION. My dad is always there for his children and he supports everything we do. My dad is LOVE
Mum, is a very kind woman. She would stay awake all night when I am sick and would scold me really bad when I make mistakes. She is a multitalented woman who is my mother, doctor, therapist, cook, priest, counselor and an INSPIRATION. She gets me. She is able to read my mind. My silence speaks to her in a lot of ways I can’t explain. She just peeks into my eyes and everything becomes clearer to her. My mum is a GODDESS of scarifies. She has given up a lot in life to make raise us well. I have seen her go hungry just to make sure that all her children have something to eat. My mum is GREATNESS. My mum is a SUPER WOMAN.
8.Love is…1 CORINTHIANS 13