Lee Siba, a transgender LGBTQI activist in Ekurhuleni who is battling cancer is asking the community she has done so much for to help her get better.
Lee is well known in Gauteng as the founder of the organisation Uthingo – The Rainbow LGBTQIA and queer pageants such as Miss Gay Daveyton, that have uplifted and empowered many trans women in the region. She also serves on the board of Gender Dynamix, the Cape Town-based group representing trans and gender diverse communities.
Lee recently revealed that she has been suffering from Kaposi’s Sarcoma since 2017; a cancer that causes patches of abnormal tissue to grow under the skin, in the lining of the mouth, nose, and throat, in lymph nodes, or in other organs.
In August last year, her right leg was amputated due to health complications. This was not only devastating in its own right, but also meant that Lee had to delay chemotherapy to treat her now advanced cancer until the leg amputation wound healed.
She was only recently able to go the first session of chemotherapy at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, but the costs of maintaining the treatment are unaffordable, especially as she is currently unemployed because of her health status.
The transport costs to and from the hospital alone amount to R5,000 a month and she also needs to make her home wheelchair-friendly. Siba has now been forced to launch an online fundraising campaign.
“This time has been very trying for both my family and I,” wrote Siba on Facebook. “It is not easy to ask for assistance from the public, but I am here, humbly asking for assistance from the broader LGBTQI community and members of the general public as I continue my chemotherapy and navigate life as a wheelchair user.”
In a video posted on social media, she appealed for assistance, while holding back tears. “I’m calling out for help from everyone who knows me, who knows my struggles, who knows my motivation, who knows the impact that I’ve contributed to people’s lives and who want to helo me to continue being a shining light in other people’s lives.”
Siba’s plea for support has been backed by other activists and several LGBTIQ organisations, including Iranti and OUT LGBT Well-being.
“Lee needs our support and we already know how vulnerable we are as trans folk when it comes to access to the highest quality of health care and we can make a difference with Lee,” said Botswana Trans activist Tshepo Ricki Kgositau-Kanza. “Please take time to listen to her voice and donate.”
Luiz De Barros, editor of MambaOnline.com added: “Lee has been an inspiration to so many as a strong, proud and dynamic trans woman. It cannot be easy for her to ask for help from others. I hope that we as a community can come together to help her through this challenging time.”