Pietermaritzburg – His passion for cooking has given a young teenager hope after a devastating diagnosis.
Nduduzo Dlamini (13) from Dundee was diagnosed with Wilms tumour — a type of cancer affecting the kidneys and renal system in children under the age of 14 — early this year.
With the help of Reach For a Dream, Dlamini got a chance to spend a day at the Granny Mouse Country House & Spa’s kitchen recently. Reach for a Dream is a programme that encourages children to use their dreams to fight life-threatening illnesses and tries to make their dreams come true.
Nduduzo said, “I enjoy being in the kitchen. I can cook almost anything. Being a chef for a day was fun. It really gave me a reason to keep on fighting. I know one day I will have my own restaurant and be a well-known chef.”
Nduduzo’s idol is Buddy Valastro — a well-known Italian-American celebrity chef — and he says one day he’ll be just like him.
Nduduzo said when he was first told he had cancer he was “very upset”. “I did not understand why. Why me? I have never smoked or done anything that could harm my body.”
Dlamini’s aunt Irene Dlamini said, “I took him in as my own son after he lost his mother in 2013. His love for cooking was something we took no notice of until recently. He enjoys being in the kitchen. At first he would just watch and ask a lot of questions but now he helps out.”
Finding out that Nduduzo had cancer was very scary for his family.
“When we were told about it, we had little knowledge of the disease. At that time we automatically thought we had lost him because all we knew is that once you have cancer your days are numbered. Time went by and I would go to his chemotherapy sessions with him and during that time I got to learn more about the disease,” said his aunt.
She described Nduduzo as a very bright child.
“After receiving this devastating news we thought he would just give up on life but he didn’t. He is living his life to the fullest. He plays with other children. He loves playing sport,” she said.
Nduduzo has had his tumour removed and is now undergoing chemotherapy.
“Having cancer did not stop me from living. I am still young and I haven’t lost hope. I am and I will be one of those people sharing their stories, saying, ‘I am a cancer survivor’,” said Nduduzo.
Projects co-ordinator Charmaine Premlal said, “We wanted to do something different, not just buy the children something and walk away. We wanted something that would bring them joy, and that was living their dreams for just a day. We go out to hospitals with the help of hospital management and interact with the children. After three or four visits we take the child to live his or her dream. We want to bring back hope and give them a reason to carry on fighting.”