The Sunday News
ON Wednesday 27 April, the nation woke up to the news of the passing of award winning comedian, Clive Chigubu. This came just a few days when Sunday News carried an exclusive interview with the renowned entertainer where he revealed that he had been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a type of cancer that had left him bedridden.
As we celebrate his life, we carry the full article below.
Bruce Ndlovu, Sunday Life Reporter
A FEW years after he thought he had seen the last of a hospital ward when he was discharged after suffering from a meningitis-related spinal illness, comedian Clive Chigubu once again finds himself in a battle for his life, after he was diagnosed with Diffuse Large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a type of cancer that has left him bedridden.
DLBCL is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the lymphatic system which, according to some medical research, is said to be more common in men than it is in women. It develops when the body makes abnormal B lymphocytes.
These lymphocytes are a type of white blood cells that normally help to fight infections.
At the onset of the Covid-19-inspired lockdowns two years ago, Chigubu seemed to be regaining his mojo, with video skits that were once again reminding people that he is one of Zimbabwe’s most gifted comedic minds and actors. Those skits followed a lengthy layoff that had seen the 2015 National Arts Merit Awards Outstanding Comedian award winner vanish off stages and screens alike.
However, just as he was seemingly on track and picking up steam, the Chigubu train has once been derailed, with a diagnosis that has once again turned his life upside down.
“In late September, my nose got blocked after a suffered from a really painful ear. At the time I thought it was the usual flue. I steamed but I couldn’t clear the blocked nasal passage.
In November, I had a sore throat which affected my voice and because of that I ended up doing fewer wedding performances due to the strain in my vocal and nasal areas.
In January, someone advised me to go to an ENT physician (ear, nose, and throat doctor) who can be found in at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and can only be seen on Fridays.
The process of having an appointment with him was time consuming and it took a considerable amount of time to finally see him and begin the process of diagnosis.
“I was admitted at the hospital for sample extraction. The first test detected cancer and further tests were recommended and after some considerable time the final tests came out and I was diagnosed with DLBCL.
Up to now I’m still in the process of seeking treatment of which I’m deeply worried because I haven’t received any treatment due to the slow processes in the system and also financial constraints. This is happening while this cancer is still spreading.”
The comedian, who in the past spoke fondly about his relationship with his five-year-old daughter, said his battle with cancer had driven a wedge on their father-daughter bond, as he was now unable to carry out simple tasks like walking and talking.
“My child has been my inspiration and my pain throughout this ordeal. The truth of the matter is I cannot control these things. Sometimes, especially of late, she has started adjusting to what I can now say is her new normal.
I went from spending most of the time with her, being a playful and providing dad to a state where she sees me unable to communicate with her due to my deteriorating health. She tries by all means to take it like an adult but the five-year-old being in her also reminds her to express herself in a way that pains me within.
“She would sometimes ignore me as if I’m not present and I would feel her disappointment. It is not like I asked for this. Questions like ‘Daddy you’ve been ill for so long why can’t you just drink a magic portion like some cartoons on Television and get well once?’ She even insists on helping me when I’m struggling to do simple things.
However, I don’t feel like I’m cursed and the fact is that I’m a victim to this condition. I’m actually failing to walk, talk or breathe without a lot of effort but my mental state is in my strong point and I believe that I cannot be pulled down by the negative,” he said.
Chigubu as he had largely lost his voice, he was now using hand signs to communicate with his family.
“The idea of lengthy booking dates and a number of required tests done privately has been my nightmare and a drawback to my treatment and recovery and interaction with my family has also been a challenge since my voice hardly projects and therefore, a lot of hand signs have to be used.
Also, my siblings have a hard time coping with my condition and the thought of them watching me fighting for my life is a knock down on its own. So, in brief I can say the whole experience is unbearable but my spirit cannot be broken by what I see with my physical eye,” he said.
Chigubu said what particularly saddened him was that the cancer had struck when he was on the verge of a reviving a comedy career that had already previously been affected by illness.
“The worst thing is I had just signed a contract with Zwangendaba Productions Company, a film company that is still establishing here in Bulawayo. They were willing to lend me whatever equipment I needed to shoot my skits and in future we would shoot films.
The two guys are based in United States and one member stays in Zimbabwe. After all that, the devil gives me a Will Smith smack in face with this . . . so if people, companies could help me out I would be grateful.
All I have is faith and with God by my side I will fight it and get back to the top. I want to continue and fulfil my destiny,” he said.
Despite his trials and tribulations, Chigubu said he was still upbeat and wanted his fight against cancer to be a beacon guiding others in their own battles with the ailment.
While he has been the man delivering hope and cheer to the grief-stricken with jokes over the years, he believes now is the time he needs to deliver healing through inspiration and a never-say-die attitude.
“At first I slightly thought of that and then I said to myself, maybe I am supposed to bring hope to the hopeless from the kind of job I do, laughter on its own is a medicine for stress relief. What I’m going through is a path, a simple test from God. I’m going through it so someone else can take inspiration from me.
When the devil sees greatness in you, he will fight you more. So, it’s not a curse really, the world is full of ups and downs.
“I feel no pressure to be the Chigubu people know all the time. I have always been that and I will remain that way. When the nurses delivered the bad news and said, ‘You have cancer, it’s incurable, we are moving you to Mpilo for you to at least try’ I said sh*t and a tear dropped down my eye.
I was with my uncle, who is also my director, and I said let’s fight it, we can beat it. We started researching ways of beating this thing. When the body is weak, the mind and soul need to be the strongest. You have to look at the future beyond your current circumstances. You can win any battle,” he said.
Chigubu said he was appealing for help to the wider public as the cost of treatment had been hard on his pocket, particularly after he had spent years fighting another ailment. According to a medical journal, Cancer Research UK, DLBCL grows quickly and treatment should start soon after diagnosis.
“I was then booked for today (15 April) so that the doctor sees me and then refers me to Mpilo for cancer treatment but unfortunately, we found them closed although we were booked. So, I guess the doctor wasn’t aware that today is a holiday and they’re not going to be there.
Now I have to wait for the next Friday to see the doctor and then possibly get referred to Mpilo of which they will also then book me for another day to see the doctor. That’s my challenge my brother and finance is also the major drawback in this whole thing.
So, my plea is on the opening of a platform where I might make a public outcry to any well-wishers out there throughout the country and also outside if they can assist me with these medical bills maybe the treatment process can be fast and might have a chance of fighting this condition because through research it seems urgency is also crucial in treating it,” he said.