Cape Town – What started as a sinus infection for this young woman turned into a massive tumour covering two thirds of her face.
After several operations, doctors have now deemed the cancerous tumour inoperable and told a despairing Ntomboxolo Maquela, 31, that she will have to live with it for the rest of her life.
The only way she can eat is if her food is liquefied and she also has difficulty breathing.
All she can do, to cope with the pain and bleeding, is take medication, but Ntomboxolo says the only thing that provides relief, is cannabis oil.
Her life changed forever in 2008, when as a bubbly and optimistic 19-year-old electrical engineering student at CPUT, she developed a bad bout of sinusitis.
A tumour then started growing near her nose and mouth and her one eye popped out.
She was diagnosed with an Odontogenic tumour. In a letter from the Head & Neck Oncology Clinic at Groote Schuur Hospital, doctors state that she has a benign tumour of the left maxillary sinus.
She says she had several surgeries but the tumour just keeps growing back.
After her last check-up this year, doctors have learnt that the tumour has spread to areas of her skull which are difficult to reach surgically without damaging vital structures.
The tumour was deemed inoperable and all she can do now is manage the pain.
The massive growth has affected Ntomboxolo’s life so much that she was unable to complete her studies, and cannot work.
Ntomboxolo can’t do many things that most of us take for granted. She never leaves home. She can also not eat solid foods and she has lost her sense of smell.
She says she is only able to eat soft foods like soup, yoghurt and custard.
She can’t speak clearly and can only see out of one eye.
Her aunt, Tamia Maqubela, and her husband in East London have been looking after her since August.
“She started studying in 2007, and in 2008 she was diagnosed and underwent many surgeries,” explains Tamia.
The Daily Voice was able to interview Ntomboxolo via her aunt and text messages.
The young woman says the only thing that helps with the “excruciating” pain is cannabis oil.
She has been pain free for four months, but can no longer afford the oil.
“I was using cannabis oil, buying one vial at a time. There’s a full protocol that cost R7 000.
“I want desperately to try the full protocol and see how it will affect me.
“After using cannabis oil, I didn’t feel any pain. The bleeding also stopped.
“I could feel like myself again because I was suffering from major depression,” the brave woman adds.
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