eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede with former Banyana Banyana footballer Makhosi Luthuli who is battling lymphatic cancer.
Life has not been easy for former Banyana Banyana football star, Makhosi Luthuli, who is battling lymphatic cancer.

The 45-year-old former footballer’s face has been deformed by a growing cancerous tumour which she has had for the past seven years.

While some empathise with her, Luthuli is constantly faced by people who are frightened by her.

“I have tried it all but the tumour keeps on growing, it gets swollen. When people see me, especially females, they stare at me and start talking; others ask what I have.

“Sometimes I am forced to stay indoors because of the pain. It has really been difficult,” said Luthuli.

Her condition has worsened to the point where she has lost her teeth, cannot eat properly, struggles to breathe and cannot see with her left eye. She said she has been surviving on a diet of soft, bland foods.

Luthuli used to hit the back of the net during her heyday in the 1990s, where she represented Banyana in the Africa Cup of Nations and accrued 48 international caps under her name before retiring in 2005.

Chemotherapy and radiography has not helped Luthuli’s cancer battle. She has since desperately approached eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede’s office for assistance.

Last week, Gumede’s foundation and businessman Sandile Zungu donated R100 000 for medical expenses and transport costs.

“My prayers have been answered after I have suffered for such a long time. I will be able to attend all the medical specialists who I believe will be able to treat me,” said Luthuli.

Despite all the hardships, she remains mad about football and coaches her own women’s football club at her home town of Marianhill, near Pinetown, west of Durban.

“Sometimes I get so sick that I cannot go to coach my team, but my heart is always with the club,” she said.

Despite this, Luthuli still dreams of coaching abroad.

Said Gumede: “I am so happy that she will be able to see the necessary specialists and get help.

“I am thankful for what Sandile has done.”

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Sunday Independent