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Living with interstitial cystitis

BRYANSTON – Interstitial Cystitis 'Warrior' Maureen Morapeli raise awareness on unpopular disease mostly affecting women.


To raise awareness of interstitial cystitis (IC), Knightsbridge Conference Centre in Bryanston welcomed medical experts and IC sufferer Maureen Morapeli who shared her story of living with the condition.

With September being World Interstitial Cystitis month, Morapeli officially launched her organisation, Mpho ya Lesedi (gift of enlightenment) aimed at empowering women and men with the knowledge of IC symptoms and how to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Watch as Health Science University Professor Shingai Mutambirwa explains Interstitial Cystitis

Friends and family of Morapeli came out in numbers to learn more about the condition. Providing a detailed overview of the condition was head of Urogynaecology and Pelvic Floor Unit at University of the Witwatersrand, Professor Andreas Chrysostomou, histopathologist at Lancet Laboratories Dr Sally-Ann Khoza and head of Urology at Sefako Makgatho Health Science University, Professor Shingai Mutambirwa.

Programme director Tshidi Ramogaso, Professor Andreas Chrysostomou, Dr Sally-Ann Khoza and Professor Shingai Mutambirwa discuss interstitial cystitis. Photo: Gift Tlou

According to Mutambirwa, interstitial cystitis is a chronic illness which causes discomfort in the bladder. “Most of the time it affects women, so the women will feel a pain in the bladder and they tend to urinate more often than a normal person,” he said. Mutambirwa added that the condition may affect one’s social life.

Happy to educate others is interstitial cystitis ‘warrior’ Maureen Morapeli. Photo: Gift Tlou

“When you urinate frequently, this might restrain you from taking part in other life activities which might lead to stress and depression.”

Khoza revealed that there was no permanent cure for the condition. “There are many treatment methods to alleviate the pain but the problem is getting the correct diagnosis,” she said. “Many doctors don’t understand what is wrong with a person suffering from interstitial cystitis. They think it’s a bladder infection and they give them antibiotics incorrectly.” Khoza added that the rise of this illness has seen several medical institutions undertake necessary research to learn more about the condition.

Supportive husband Raymond and Maureen Morapeli. Photo: Gift Tlou

A mother of two, Morapeli explained what it was like living with interstitial cystitis. “At times you are in constant pain and you have to take strong painkillers but sometimes you avoid taking those strong painkillers because they will make you feel drowsy,” she said. “Most people don’t understand what we go through and we end up being moody and there’s always an element of depression.”

Tackling interstitial cystitis is Maureen Morapeli, Professor Andreas Chrysostomou,Dr Sally-Ann Khoza and Professor Shingai Mutambirwa. Photo: Gift Tlou

Morapeli also described how her life had changed after being diagnosed with the condition in 2014. “I had to change my diet, I can’t travel for long hours and I had to stop going to the gym.”

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