Tumours run in the family



September 15, 2016
Tumours run in the family

Amina Martin sits as son Shamier lies in bed at their Manenberg home. CREDIT: Noor Slamdien

Mom and son suffer from extremely rare terminal condition.

A mother who is living with a deadly condition says her son, who suffers from the same illness, gives her reason to live.

Manenberg mom Amina, 47, and her son Shamier Martin suffer from Neurofibromatosis type 2, a hereditary illness that causes them to get painful tumours all over their body.

Doctors at Groote Schuur Hospital, where Shamier, 27, is a patient, say one in 25 000 people suffer from the disease.

Hospital spokesperson Alaric Jacobs says the illness affects the nervous system, causing non-cancerous tumours growth.

Symptoms can appear from the age of 20, and patients are given an average of 15 years to live after that.

Jacobs says: “A few trials have shown the average age of death to be around 36-years-old.”

Amina inherited the condition from her father, who died in his twenties when she was just a few months old.

The mom was diagnosed at 23 herself, but has miraculously outlived her prognosis by nearly 25 years.

Her 67-year-old mother Abeda, explains: “She started walking (off balance) like a drunk person. When the doctor (diagnosed her) I explained that this condition runs in the family.

“She was given three months to live but she is still here,” she smiles.

Abeda says Amina used to hide herself because she was shy about her disfigured face, caused by a tumour.

“I always encouraged her to go out and not worry about the way she looks,” she adds.

Amina, who lost her hearing over time, admits she blamed her mother for her suffering before she accepted the condition.

She speaks in a whisper and has shortness of breath because of a tumour growing on her chest.

“People say I am strong but my strength comes from Allah. Everyday that I wake up is a gift,” she adds.

Shamier currently sufffers from a brain tumour as well as several tumours on his back.

He became paralysed after his last operation in 2010.

Abeda takes care of Amina and Shamier, washing, feeding and clothing them.

Amina says: “There are days when I feel sad and alone, then my mother tells me to get dressed and put on some lipstick so I can feel better. I also draw my strength from my son, he gives me reason to live.”

Abeda says their only income is her old-age pension and their disability grants.

“I spend R800 on adult nappies a month because I need eight packs,” she explains.

Their neighbour Danielle Roberts, 31, has made it her duty to assist the struggling family.

“I managed to get Shamier a hospital bed but there is so much more that they need,” she says.

“He needs an electronic wheelchair with back support.”

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