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Zimbabwean Model Shares Her Intimate Story, “Behind the Shadows Of Cancer” Part Four!

Filed under : Africa, Lifestyle

From our Guest Contributor, Teurai Chanakira: Model, Author / Writer & Founder of the Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust…

Photo: Mia Huddleston 2011

…From the day Mum left us, life changed in indescribable ways.

I never really realised how much women hold families and communities together until Mum’s death.

We all went through the formalities of planning the funeral…everything was a blur to me, amidst the sea of mourners.

I had never told anyone, but the week that I had arrived back from Australia when Mum was still alive, I was looking for a phone number that she had asked me to get in a notebook.  I couldn’t find the number, so I started looking through the back pages. That’s when I found a note that she had written.  The note shocked and confused me.

We laid Mum to rest on Christmas Day 2010.

At the funeral, I read the note out loud:


When I am gone release me let me go. I have so many things to see and do. You mustn’t tie yourself to me in tears, be happy that we had so many years.

I gave you all my love, you can only guess – how much you gave to me in happiness.  I thank you for the love you each have shown me but now it’s time I travelled alone.

So grieve a while for me, if you grieve you must. It’s only for a while that we must part – so bless the memories within your heart.

If you listen with your heart you will hear all my love around you soft & clear. And then, when you must come this way alone – I will greet you with a smile and…


The only thing that kept me going was the vision I had of helping reduce the risk of cancer in Zimbabwe.  I don’t know how I gathered the strength to stand up and talk but I stood there, with my body bearing the weight of overwhelming grief and pain, coupled with a burning passion for change.  After talking about Mum and the family’s journey, I told everyone I was determined to start the Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust (ECCT).

The ECCT was officially registered in Zimbabwe in May 2011.  Research by the World Cancer Research Fund show that cancer is one of our biggest global challenges, with cancer rates having increased to four times the annual HIV rate.

Zimbabwe National Cancer Registry (2010) statistics show that cancer is currently killing more Zimbabweans than any other disease in the country, yet there is limited awareness and minimal media interest.

The aims of the ECCT are to raise awareness of cancer in Zimbabwe and fundraise for disadvantaged cancer patients, who are unable to afford any costs associated with treatment.

Evidence shows that the majority of cancers are linked to a poor diet (e.g. our increased reliance on processed foods), a lack of exercise and being overweight.  The ECCT has a strong emphasis on promoting Natural Health and Fitness, particularly by promoting natural, locally-grown Zimbabwean products.

All over the world we are hearing stories of people whose bodies have recovered from illnesses by changing to a healthier lifestyle.  We have all the products that we need to be healthier growing in our country, including ‘muriwo’ which is rich in cancer-preventing properties.

Photo: Peter Brown Photographer 2010


Cervical Cancer Awareness

The ECCT is in partnership with the Art of Being Humane Foundation (ABHF). In September 2011, we supported Cervical Cancer Awareness month in Zimbabwe and held a Coffee morning on the 24th.  Several women attended and participated in the information sessions, with research questionnaires answered.  This is the start of ongoing research which will be contributed towards a SADC Report, by the ECCT

Awareness saves lives: Cervical Cancer Coffee Morning, 24 September 2011


This October, the ECCT and ABHF are collaborating to support Breast Cancer Awareness in Zimbabwe.  They will host an Exhibition portraying various women’s stories of Cervical Cancer and an Information giving/Performance Day, later this month. Please keep your eyes on the blog ( for dates and venue.  On Friday 7 October 2011, there will be a “Pink Happy Hour for Breast Cancer” to be held at Freshly Ground Cafe, Avondale, Harare from 5-6pm.  Please contact Lynda or Donna at for further information.

“Awareness for all”: men supporting Cervical Cancer awareness campaign.  The ECCT will be raising awareness in the upcoming months on the cancers which affect the male population.

The ECCT is appealing for volunteers from all over the world to join in their cause.  To make a donation or to become a volunteer, please contact us via our website at

From a cultural perspective, I feel we need to speak out more about the illnesses within our families/communities and to reduce the taboo that is often placed on Counselling and speaking about our emotions to one another, when we are faced with illnesses.  We need to talk to each other so that younger generations are aware of the diseases which affect us and how to prevent them.

My vision is to expand ECCT so as to touch the lives of people all over the world.  My Mum’s spirit will live on through the ECCT and I know that it is exactly what she would have wanted.

Photo: E:thos Photography by Rudo Nyangulu 2011

“Positivity”: Teurai is focused on turning her painful experience into something positive






Catch Teurai here every fortnight bringing exclusive content on the Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust, Women’s health & more…

farai – who has written posts on Farai Today.

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