Molefe appeals for life-saving donor

BAFEDILE Molefe used to buy bandannas with sunflowers because they were fashionable, not knowing she would one day depend on them for her life.

"I used to buy them in different colours to match my outfits. I still buy them now but for different reasons," Molefe said.

Since she was diagnosed with leukaemia Molefe wears the bandannas in support of The Sunflower Fund, which recruits donors and raises funds for the South African Bone Marrow Registry.

Molefe,48,of Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2008 after suffering pains in her back for months.

Leukaemia is a cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Bone marrow is found in the centre of all large bones. It is where new blood cells or blood stem cells are produced.

Leukaemia affects the normal functioning of particles in the blood such as white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.

Molefe was shocked by the diagnosis because "leukaemia is often regarded as a disease for white people".

She underwent an autologous stem cell transplant to treat the cancer, after which she felt better.

"I was energetic again. I forgot that I was ever sick."

But the stem cells were however later rejected by her body and the cancer returned last September. Molefe was told by doctors that a bone marrow transplant was her only chance of survival.

She said she had lost her hair and that her nails and skin have become darker because of the chemotherapy.

"Everything in my life has changed because of the illness, including the way I dress," Molefe said.

"I don't have the strength anymore to make myself look beautiful."