A South African Success Story: David


In 2010, LIVESTRONG initiated a pilot campaign in South Africa and Mexico that will seek to raise awareness of the global cancer burden and reduce the stigma associated with cancer through culturally relevant and targeted messaging. Please consider helping us continue our work by making a donation during the Break the Silence campaign from now through the end of June.

David has become a bit of a celebrity in his Soweto neighborhood, all because he is a cancer survivor who decided to speak out and share his story. In fact, his new nickname these days is Mr. Jozi FM, the name of the local radio station on which his story is aired several times a day.

David is passionate about sharing encouraging messages about facing, fighting, and conquering cancer. As David puts it, it is important that as many people as possible come to understand that cancer is not a death sentence. He would like to replicate again and again, the eye opening experience he had when his own misconceptions about cancer were shattered when a relative’s shared simple facts about what cancer and cancer treatment were and what they were not. ?I was about to undergo radiotherapy for throat cancer and I thought the doctor was going to put a hot iron down my throat in order to “burn the cancer, but my relative, who was a cancer survivor, explained what radiotherapy was.?


After undergoing treatment and recovering, David was inspired to tell his story to others. Most recently, his story was recorded by the Cancer Anti-Stigma Initiative. The story is currently being broadcast across the South Africa through short ads on five radio stations and through short videos aired in clinics across the country. Through these broadcasts, David’s message has reached thousands and has made David a celebrity. The most inspiring impact of these broadcasts has been felt at a very personal level. David recently reconnected with a childhood friend, Zakhele, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent radiation therapy in 2010. Zakhele shared that hearing David on the radio excited and encouraged him to continue to fight for his health. David believes that it is because Zakhele heard his message broadcast that Zakhele asks specifically for him when he is feeling unwell.

Asked how the Cancer Anti-Stigma Initiative has impacted his life, David shares that having the chance to share his story with such a wide audience has left him grateful, joyful and satisfied because he knows that his story will help many people. He hopes that the Initiative will continue to broadcast messages like his.


The Cancer Anti-Stigma Initiative, presented by LIVESTRONG and implemented by John Snow Inc (JSI) has been working in South Africa to combat cancer Stigma since May of 2010. The Initiative aims to reduce cancer-related stigma through culturally-relevant and targeted messaging that raise awareness of the global cancer burden. By collaborating with local cancer organizations and encouraging survivors to tell their stories, Initiative disseminates the knowledge and awareness messages needed to successfully confront fears and misconceptions about stigma in the South African public.

The impact of the project’s activities is just starting to be felt and stories like those of David and Zakhele are beginning to emerge.


  1. Hank Deneski says:

    Congratulations David for not only being strong enough to overcome throat cancer, but to be even stronger to speak out about cancer in a country where it is not popular to do so.
    I am a stage IV inoperable base of tongue cancer survivor getting ready to celebrate the start of my 6th year of survivorship. I still have my voice thanks to my medical team, the Grace of God and a lot of hard work. I use that voice to speak out for awareness of Oral, Head and Neck Cancer and the need for screening programs to save others. Stay strong and keep using your voice for the good of others as long as you can.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *