I was in Munich, Germany, last September when I heard that star broadcaster and journalist Xolani Gwala was very sick.
On the Radio 702 livestream, I could hear the voice of the usually unflappable Stephen Grootes quiver as he spoke to Gwala about his condition: advanced colon cancer.
Gwala's oncologist Dr Omondi Ogudi explained that the cancer had spread to his liver.
Gwala was courageous in sharing details of his illness with the nation and, in an extraordinary way, comforted people that he was in good hands and mentally geared for what was coming. "It's going to be a long fight, but a fight that I'm ready for," he said.
On the other side of the world, I felt disoriented and frightened. Gwala and I are not close friends but we both grew up in journalism, journeying from the tumult of the violence in KwaZulu-Natal through the political intrigues of democratic South Africa.
The media fraternity is an odd, interconnected community that tries daily to piece together what is happening around us, and occasionally succeeds at it. We are stuck together, the ebb and flow of our lives determined by an unremitting news cycle, telling history as it happens.
When something bad happens, we realise the value of each other - like when the media is under attack or when SABC journalist Suna Venter died from a broken heart.
Later that day, I walked into the Cathedral of Our Lady in Munich to pray. The magnificence of the elaborate Gothic architecture and a giant artwork of the Assumption of Mary into heaven have the effect of diminishing one's own existence so I struggled to find the right words.