Personal Stories from TB Survivors - My Journey fighting TB

October 2017

Tuberculosis (TB) is the world's top infectious killer today. It is airborne and can affect any one of us. Over 5 000 women, men and children still die each day from TB. The social and economic impacts are devastating, including poverty, stigma and discrimination. This disease is curable and preventable, yet global actions and investments fall far short of those needed to end the global TB epidemic.

These are the stories of TB survivors from around the world on their journey fighting and beating TB. These survivors have experienced the side effects of TB medication, the difficulties of undergoing treatment, the mental and psychological impact, and want to raise awareness about this disease, including the importance of getting tested and adhering to treatment.

Their voices provide important perspectives and are a powerful tool for advocacy to accelerate the TB response and reach all affected people with prevention and care.

Sophia, from Namibia

A woman from Namibia

My name is Sophia, I am Namibian, 34 years old and a tuberculosis (TB) survivor.

A few years ago I moved to Windhoek to find a job. Soon after I realized that I wasn’t feeling well. My chest was hurting, I was coughing a lot and I had no appetite, so I went to the hospital where I had a sputum test. I was given medicines and I was sent home, but after a week I returned to the hospital because I was not getting any better.

Finally doctors sent me for an X-ray and shortly after they told me I had TB. I was shocked. I couldn’t understand how I had been infected and I told them that I didn’t drink or smoke. They explained to me that TB is airborne and it can affect any one of us, anywhere, and that I had to go to the nearest TB Directly-Observed Treatment, short-course (DOTs) centre to start the treatment.

I was scared when I found out that TB treatment usually lasts six months because it felt like a very long time. When I started medication, I vomited every time I swallowed a pill because I was taking them on an empty stomach. I had no appetite. At the clinic they gave me food, like porridge, which helped me take the medicines.

When I completed my TB treatment and was fully recovered, I decided to become a volunteer and went every day to the DOTs centre to cultivate the garden. After some time I was asked to become a DOTs centre supporter and for the past two years I have been helping TB patients with periodical house-to-house visits, to ensure that they complete their treatment. I also educate family members and their communities on TB.