CONTRARY to President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace’s claims upon her return from an extended stay in Singapore six weeks ago that she only had an operation to remove a nagging appendix, close family sources say she is suffering from a much more serious ailment — colon cancer.
Family sources say about 30cm of her colon (large intestine) affected by cancer was removed during the operation.
Grace, who is Zanu PF Women’s League boss, left the country last week on Wednesday via South Africa on commercial flights.
One of her relatives said this week: “The First Lady needs our prayers. She is very ill. I don’t know why the First family is being secretive about her illness. Zimbabweans would sympathise with her if they knew and they could help pray for her recovery.”
When Grace returned from the Far East on February 15, she said the appendectomy she underwent was the third operation after the first one in 1986 to remove tonsils, and a second one in 1996 for gall bladder removal.
Although he tried to downplay her illness, Mugabe, who is also struggling with old age and health complications, was the first to break the news of his wife’s condition when he returned in January without her after a six-week holiday with his family in the Far East.
However, latest information shows Grace could be suffering from colon cancer, which has forced her to disappear from public life after going to Singapore for treatment.
Close family sources said while in Singapore during their annual holiday, Grace had an operation to remove part of the colon affected by cancer.
A relative said: “The First Lady is suffering from colon cancer. She had an operation while on holiday in Singapore and has gone back there for treatment. About 30cm was removed, but now she is in a bad state, that is why she disappeared from the public spotlight.”
Medical journals say colorectal cancer, as colon cancer is also known, is a malignant tumour arising from the inner wall of the large intestine. The large intestine (colon or large bowel) is about 152,4cm to 182,9cm long and about 7,62cm in diameter and acts as a storage for waste.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer include fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath and change in bowel habits, narrow stools, diarrhoea or constipation, red or dark blood in stool, weight loss, abdominal pain, cramps or bloating.
Once a colorectal cancer forms, it begins to grow in two ways. First the cancer can grow locally and extend through the wall of the intestine and invade adjacent structures.
Second, as the cancer grows it begins the process of metastasis, shedding thousands of cells a day into the blood and lymphatic system that can cause cancers to form in distant locations, such as lymph nodes, liver, abdominal cavity and the lungs.