Although there has been a lot of positive change in the treatment and survival of patients with cancer, the diagnosis still leads to much pain, heartache, fear and at least for a while, can be a complete life changer, not only for the one who get it but also for those who are related to the patient. The heart of this mission is to restore the beautiful smiles and happiness in the faces, souls and lives of the little patients served by TLM as well as their families.
Plant for life believes in the inherent value, equality, and agency of all those fighting childhood cancer in Tanzania.
Plant For Life began in 2021 and was founded by Chandra Manek, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend, but most of all a woman who survived a diagnosis of cancer from 2019. She has turned this personal trauma into the most incredible mission – ‘touching the ailing souls whose bodies have been diagnosed with cancer’. It is as a result of her passion for gardening that she’s transformed her terrace into a garden where she grows a variety of plants (entirely at her own expense) to raise funds to support the treatment of the tiny beings cared in partnership with Tumaini la Maisha.
- A bouquet of flowers (bought as a gift for the one you love or perhaps to wish your best friend happy birthday) will die within 2 to 3 days, right? This plant will stay with you as long as you nurture it.
- Growing plants makes our environment more beautiful; just imagine sitting on your balcony sipping your morning tea listening to the birds chirping and breathing in that fresh air filled with fragrant scent; what an amazing feeling.
- Blessing from these children: This is a very special and beautiful way of touching the hearts and souls of these precious children.
Let me tell you a story. A story about a lady I know…..
On the 21st February 2019 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, this was just by sheer coincidence because she decided to go and have a wellness check- up, I don’t think anyone is ever ready to receive news of breast cancer she definitely was not.
She called her near and dear ones. Her elder son and daughter reassuring her saying “mom you are going to be fine, we are bring you back home and everything is going to be alright”. Then she heard her younger son crying at the other end. She also started crying and had nothing to say to each other. On the other line her brother making her a promise he would take care of her kids once she was gone, because that what cancer makes you think – it’s a matter of days maybe hour’s.
Before she knew it, she was on a flight back home, with her sister at her side.
Tears rolled down her face with a mindset that she was going to die.
Walking down the hospital corridor with her two sons her sister and her two brothers giving her the courage to fight the battle called cancer. It was decided by the Dr she has had to have the tumor removed as soon as possible. Day finally came, she changed into the sexy surgical gown, ready to be taken to theater, as she said her good byes to her family the only thought in her mind was that she will probably not make it through.
Lying on the operating theater she heard a voice say count to 10 my dear, she started 1 2 3 4 before she got to 5 she was out. Few hours later she woke up. Sore in pain feeling weak, mentally and physically. A feeling of emptiness, tears rolled down. Last thing she wanted was self-pity.
The results confirmed the operation had been a success – the tumor had been removed completely. The lab reported the tumor was intermediate grade 2 (in terms of how aggressive it was) and stage 1 (meaning thankfully still small and localized). Please don’t confuse the two. More good news – no chemotherapy required! She needed 15 sessions of radiotherapy over 3 weeks not bad. Radiation was very tiring as it made her weak by the day. Lying on the radiation table she noticed a picture of sky and flower as if you are floating in the air, an attempt perhaps to calm the mind. Our friend felt instead they should put a picture or Arjun Kapoor, her favourite actor, to put a smile on people faces
Finally, radiation over, she moved into what she calls the next stage of her life: Hormone medication for 5 years.
After that she would finally feel like a cancer survivor. Over the months the medication caused, pain in her legs, sleepless nights, and weakness in the arms.
If you haven’t guessed it yet, the story of the lady I just told you is me. I share with you my story today because while there is not a shred of a tumour inside me, I am healed inside and out. Today I spend my life very wisely. It’s more important how you live your life rather than how long you live your life.
I have been working on my bucket list. No, this isn’t the typical bucket list of how many luxury holidays I can take, or how many pieces of jewelry I should buy and how to fill my wardrobe will all the latest designer outfits. This list is how I am going to make a difference in the world for people who are faced with the same challenge I’ve just overcome.
I always wanted a beautiful garden lots of flowers big trees the smell of fresh cut grass. During the COVID 19 lockdown I decided to make that garden I began to collect all my favorite plants I had no idea what would I do with them all but it gave me happiness and that is all that mattered. Let’s think out of the box Sandra what could we do with all these plants, well let’s try selling them that way maybe I could help woman like myself.
Sold my first plant, sold five, grew more and sold more. Today I am happy to say “Plant for Life” sponsors over 10 beautiful ladies from the ORCI for treatment of breast cancer, 10 patients to go for they mammogram free, and is now dedicated to helping TLM and the children’s ward at Muhimbili where my heart is today.
Would like to thank my dad & mom looking over me my granddaughter who always put a smile on my face,
my daughter and sons who had faith in me she will get better, my sister & brothers who came to every appointment and became my courage and strength
Most of all thank you God for making me the woman I am today.