Asanda Matlhare
Intern Journalist
3 minute read
17 Dec 2021
9:00 am

Naledi Willers’ death really hit home

Asanda Matlhare

Wednesday last week was rather a sombre day for me, which was caused by Naledi Willers’ death. Among many other achievements, Willers was a businesswoman, and a Real Housewives of Johannesburg reality show star. And, no, I did not know her personally but her death really touched me because she died from triple-negative breast cancer. […]

Naledi Willers. Picture: Instagram

Wednesday last week was rather a sombre day for me, which was caused by Naledi Willers’ death. Among many other achievements, Willers was a businesswoman, and a Real Housewives of Johannesburg reality show star.

And, no, I did not know her personally but her death really touched me because she died from triple-negative breast cancer.

What saddened me the most about her death, that was last year when she announced that she was diagnosed with stage two triple-negative breast cancer, she added in the same breath that she was a survivor and that she had made progress, which makes her death feel untimely and unfair.

Reading about her death reminded me of a dark time in my own family’s life, when my dad had cancer of the spine, which caused him to have to learn how to walk and do basic things again. Thankfully he is still alive and has been a survivor for over a decade.

But every day I pray to God and ask him to continue to spare my dad’s life and keep him cancer-free, because cancer has proven time and time again that it is a thief and it is almost as though it comes back with a vengeance when it re-emerges.

The reality show star’s death also reminded me to prioritise my mammography and PAP smear tests – which is a screening procedure for breast cancer, and a screening procedure for cervical cancer.

I will be honest, the costs for these tests are what really discourages me, especially because my medical aid picks and chooses what it will pay for. And, of course, it does not mean when you go for these tests you are automatically safeguarded against cancer, but early detection has proven to save lives.

ALSO READ: ‘I miss you terribly’: Minnie pens tribute to late ‘Real Housewives’ star Naledi Willers

We really live in scary and uncertain times. For the past two years, going on forever, we have been focusing and trying to deal with Covid. And we tend to forget that illnesses such as cancer exist. Between Covid and cancer, I am not sure what I fear most. 

You can survive either illnesses or die, which is what scares me, because one never knows which statistic one might fall under, being exposed to the possibility of any of these illnesses.

Willers’ death left me emotional, possibly because she was young and most probably had goals she wanted to achieve.

In her Instagram post announcing her cancer diagnosis, she said: “On 29 November, 2019, I was diagnosed with stage two triple-negative cancer. This was also the day I wrote the last exam of my law degree, while waiting for the call bearing my results.”

I rarely become emotional but my heart cannot stand it when young and promising people die, but serial killers and rapists get to see the light of another day with taxpayer’s money in prison. It is really unfair how life works most of the time.

This is also when I question people who say things like: “It’s Gods will.” I do not think God would want us to suffer and die in pain. But that is a conversation for another day.

My heart really goes out to families who have one place less at their table this Christmas and festive season, because one of their loved ones are now missing.