A musician and cancer survivor from Athlone hopes to inspire people with his music. His aim is to encourage people to get to know one another and accept that we are all connected to each other.
October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Roeshdien Jaz, better known as “Mr Jaz”, grew up in Mitchell’s Plain and moved to Athlone when he was 10 years old. He attended Athlone High School, where he was elected as the first head boy of the school and matriculated in 1995.
He received a bursary to study business and marketing at the Institute of Marketing Management and graduated in 1999.
His dream was to study music, but his parents said he needed to study for something more stable first. He, however, fulfilled his dream and studied music at Hewitt College in Cape Town. He graduated in 2003 with a songwriting major. He then studied professional life coaching at Integral Coaching Centre in Bergvliet and graduated in 2010.
Mr Jaz, 38, then produced his first music single that year, Feel for love. The song secured a place in the SA Top 10 music charts for 13 weeks. Mr Jaz said he wrote the song to inspire people to get to know each other “because we are connected in some way”.
A year later, in 2012, however, Mr Jaz’s health took a nasty turn when he noticed blood in his stools. He consulted four different doctors, and all of them suspected he had piles. His family doctor then put him on a fibre supplement in August 2012, hoping it would soften his stools and heal his piles quicker, but it did not help.
A month later, doctors at Christiaan Barnard Hospital decided to perform endoscopic surgery – a minimumally invasive surgical procedure – and discovered a tumour close to the end of his large intestine. That same week, he went for his first appointment with a specialist.
On September 24, he was booked for a colonoscopy and got his results two days later – he was diagnosed with colon cancer.
“I just froze, I couldn’t believe it. The doctor told me he couldn’t remove it because it was too low in my intestine, but that he would give me a good referral – the doctor who removed his tumour.”
A few hours later, Mr Jaz and his mother met up with the doctor at Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.
“The doctor said, ‘I can fix this,’ and we burst out crying.”
Weeks later, his first operation was complete. He underwent eight months of chemotherapy, which came with many side effects, including the loss of his finger nails, fatigue, and hair loss.
After eight weeks, doctors found that his arteries in his colon had attached themselves to each other because no food had been passing through it. Doctors performed an operation to loosen the arteries and he ended up staying in hospital for another five weeks.
He went for check-ups every three months for two years, and then every six months.
In March this year, he was declared cancer free. Mr Jaz said he did not like using the words “cancer free” because his recovery is merely extra time given by God.
When asked why he chose a career in music, he said he always wanted to leave something behind, for people to remember him by.
He appealed to others to get involved with his crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a music video, which will document his journey with cancer and feature other cancer survivors as well.
Mr Jaz also serves as a motivational coach. On Saturday October 29, he will host a goal-setting workshop from 9.30am to 11.30am at the Cornerstone Institute in Salt River. For more information, call him at 072 600 4072.