Tsvangirai talks about his
battle with cancer

MDC-T leader says being
diagnosed with cancer of the colon came as a
shock to him and his family who believed his
days were numbered, but he has learnt to
take the disease in his stride.
Opening up to the Zimbabwe Independent
about his battle, Tsvangirai said he was
recovering well and hopeful to attain full
Tsvangirai revealed he had cancer of the
colon in June after failing to attend
demonstrations by his party in Mutare and
Bulawayo, despite leading an earlier
demonstration in Harare.
Tsvangirai said: “I was shocked, because I
didn’t feel anything. I was not aware of this
condition. In fact, I was busy active with
political programmes until my wife (Elizabeth
Macheka) said you have to stop because you
don’t look healthy. That is when I went for
this diagnosis, only to find the extent of the
tumour in the colon. You start off by shock
and then you take it in strides, you go
through the treatment, you go through the
“I was diagnosed with cancer on May 17. I
went to visit my doctor for a number of
health checks. He is the one who said I need
to be tested out of his own diagnosis and
when I was then checked they diagnosed that
I had a tumour in my colon. That is the
cancer,” he said.
“I did not believe it at first and when I
went to South Africa; the doctor expressed
the fact that we needed to operate and I
was operated on, removing part of the
tumour. They suggested that I should go on
a programme of chemotherapy which has been
administered to me for the last four
sessions. I have been responding very well to
treatment as you can see. I have said that
whatever it is I will go through and I will
confront it without any fear”
Tsvangirai said the most painful and difficult
part of his cancer experience was breaking
the news to his family who took it as if he
had pronounced his death.
“One of the things that happen with
diagnosis of cancer is first the shock is
almost like inevitable death. People conclude
that because it’s cancer therefore it’s
death. That’s the reaction from my wife, my
family members, my daughters, my children
and everyone. They see the inevitable death.
Fortunately for me, I took it calmly. It’s
probably the stage that one has to accept
the status without panicking,” said
The former prime minister said although
there has been steady progress, especially
with the tests and the benchmarks on
various tests having shown significant
progress in addressing the cancer, the
process was very expensive.
“I don’t know how many chemotherapy
sessions are left, it’s up to the oncologist to
determine what needs to be done next. In
the next session I am supposed to go through
a scan to establish the extent of the cancer
cells and also to do blood tests and all those
other tests. But it is an expensive exercise,
that is where I think that for other
Zimbabweans it’s something that is a sure
sign of a death sentence if you don’t get the
help that is necessary and that is timely.
It’s something that the state should
definitely set as a priority,” he said,
refusing to disclose how much he has spent so
far on the treatment and the names of those
who have chipped in to pay his bills.
Tsvangirai said he was now on a strict diet
which includes millet porridge, vegetables and
various unprocessed foods.
“There are certain things you can’t touch
and certain things you do eat. But I have a
very strict diet. I eat millet porridge, some
real roughage mugaiwa (unrefined mealie-
meal) and I also eat a lot of vegetables, they
say it helps,” he said, adding he has braved
the ordeal because he is a strongly-spirited
Tsvangirai, however, said he would continue
being active politically despite his cancer
“I have been diagnosed for this (cancer) and
I have made this public. It’s not a death
sentence; I am recovering and I am hoping
that when I fully recover I will be in a
position to carry out my work at a much more
intense basis,” he said.
“As we go into 2017, we all have to be in a
good health because the intensity of work
will increase. I am here and I have not
announced a vacancy. I merely announced a
diagnosis of my condition.”