By Edwin Mbulo in Livingstone and Darious Kapembwa in Kitwe
Sat 16 June 2012, 13:30 CAT
FIRST lady Dr Christine Kaseba says she will lobby for more funding to the health sector in the fight against cancer as it is affecting young people.
And Livingstone City came to a standstill as residents paid their last respects to Robiana Muteka who was buried in a special grave at the old cemetery which had officially been closed by the council.
Speaking at St Francis Catholic Church in Livingstone during the funeral service of Robiana who died on June 13 from a cancer complication on his lungs after successfully undergoing an operation to remove a tumour that had afflicted him since he was five years old, Dr Kaseba said Muteka's smile brought hope to her.
"I thought I was described as a smiling first lady, but visiting Robiana brought hope in me with his smile. My appeal to the government is to give more funding to the health sector for cancer care as we have a lot of cancers that can be treated," she said.
Dr Kaseba said there was a lot of jubilation when doctors successfully operated on Robiana's tumour but this was shortlived by a non-treatable cancer.
Dr Kaseba, who at several intervals broke down, said Robiana was a brave and humble young man and that President Sata with his presidential powers did seek medical advice over his condition.
"Robiana's case could not be treated by chemotherapy or radiotherapy and you could imagine what went through the family when they were told of the cancer," she said.
She said President Sata and herself wanted to visit Robiana after the UK and Switzerland visit as they were kept informed of his condition regularly.
Dr Kaseba said Robiana's mother did not give up on her son despite feeling the pain he was going through.
She said Robiana's death showed that it was possible for Zambia to be united.
And St Francis Parish Priest Rajesh D'Souza urged Zambians to emulate the first family over the way they handled Robiana's case.
"We shed tears but it is how we shed these tears, let us keep this example. We must not wait for the President, let us keep our Christian values for those that are still struggling in their lives," Fr D'Souza said. He said Robiana always had a face of grace and had set an example of how one should die.
Livingstone residents thronged St Francis Catholic Church in Dambwa Central before he was buried at the old graveyard which was officially closed.
And a Kitwe couple that has witnessed three cancer deaths within their family has proposed that the Cancer Disease Hospital at UTH be named after Robiana .
David Kanduza and his wife said in an interview that they felt touched when news of Robiana's death broke out.
"As a family that has suffered the burden of taking care of cancerous patients, we feel Robiana's case was a different case, if anything it was a very special case," Kanduza said.
"You know cancer is very painful. Because it's a situation where even the doctors tell you that your person cannot be cured and will be dead at some point, so you start waiting for somebody to die," he said.
And Kanduza appealed for more funding in research projects on cancer so that more equipment for thorough screening of suspicious cancer cases.
"In Robiana's case it started as a tumor, the cancer was not known until the tumor was removed. It was discovered that it was actually incurable cancer, so I think there is need for more financing and awareness in the area of cancer diseases," said Kanduza.