HomeLocalGapare speaks dyslexia and innovating lashes for cancer survivors

Gapare speaks dyslexia and innovating lashes for cancer survivors

British-based Zimbabwean entrepreneur and cancer survivor, Codilia Gapare, says dyslexia has been her “superpower” as the condition has enabled her to see the world differently from everybody else. Gapare told Alpha Media Holdings chairman, Trevor Ncube on the platform In Conversation With Trevor that dyslexia makes her see solutions where other people see problems.

Below is an extract from the wide-ranging interview.

TN: Codilia Gapare, the Chief Executive Officer of C-Lash, based in London. Welcome to In Conversation With Trevor, Codi.

CG: Thank you so much for having me, it is an honour to be here.

TN: Codi, your story is a story of courage, a story of determination, a story of resilience, a story of hope. Much more importantly, it is a story of innovation. You are the first person in the whole world who innovated, who created the first ever false eyelashes for chemotherapy patients, I mean that is amazing. I also discovered there Codi, that you are also dyslexic like me?

CG: Absolutely, about bringing to market the first ever false eyelashes for people with cancer. This was something that was part of my own journey, it was something I created out of adversity. About the dyslexia, it is funny that I am discovering that I think I have known and followed you my whole life from Zimbabwe and I did not realise you were dyslexic.

TN: I am dyslexic.

CG: I only found out when I was at university actually, because from a young age I was always bottom of my class and at that time there was so much emphasis on academia and if you were not good you were just considered “dofo”, somebody who was not very bright and I grew up with this knowledge of knowing that I was not very bright. It was quite sad for me as I used to love a television show called Carson’s Law and it really made me absolutely fall in love with Law.

TN: I loved Carson’s Law too! We have a number of things in common Codi!

CG: Yeah, I wanted to be Margery Carson, that was my dream. So yes I really wanted to be a lawyer but obviously I knew I could never be one because my parents did not have money to send me to fancy schools or extra lessons or anything like that. Knowing my academic limitations, I just knew but that dream never left me because you know when you are a kid and people say what do you want to be and you say you want to be a lawyer, then maybe two years later you want to be a pilot. For me it was always that I wanted to be a lawyer.

TN: It was always you wanted to be a lawyer? Tell me in what you have said in that being dyslexic manifested itself as far as you are concerned?

CG: I could never get spelling right. It was like I would always change the whole sentence because I could not spell a certain word. I would just never quite remember things that other people would get quite easily. For me, [it] would take ages. Even though I used to have conversation and my dad would say to me in having conversations I was clearly very bright, but when it came to putting things on paper they just looked back to front and it took me ages to articulate in writing what I wanted to say. In my head it was very clear, but when it came to writing and just remembering things it was just really difficult. I never did associate that with dyslexia, I just thought I wasn’t a bright kid. That’s it.

TN: That is exactly it, I can identify with that Codi. I got beaten up quite a lot by my teachers from Grade 1-3 because they thought I was dull, I was lazy as I had problems with comprehension, problems with spelling. I did not understand how people could spell b-o-y and call it boy, it just never made any sense to me. So I completely identify with what you are saying Codi.

CG: Yeah. It is weird because at a time you get a diagnosis, when somebody tells you there is something wrong with you, instead of being scared because somebody has told you something is wrong, it is such a relief because now you know why your whole life you have struggled in things unlike everybody else. Then again, I always say my dyslexia has been my superpower because I think like me. I see the world different from everybody else, you see solutions where other people see problems. For me, it has been the thing that has been my biggest advantage. I would never give up my dyslexia for anything, it has really saved me. I see the world in a very different and interesting way.

TN: It is a gift hey, it is a gift.

CG: It is an absolute gift.

TN: So you wanted to be a lawyer Codi? However, your life turned completely into a different direction? Talk to me about your quest to become a lawyer and where you have now ended up being as a professional and as a human being?

CG: Actually, where I ended up had a direct link to that dream of becoming a lawyer because I came to the UK and I had a bit of disposable income and I thought for me why not revisit the dream of becoming a lawyer. I was working for a really amazing company at the time and the guy who owned the company is the one who said to me that I could do NVQ’s (National Vocational Qualification) and have enough points to get into university, and they had a programme at the company. He said because I talked about the lawyer thing so much they were quite willing to let me go on the programme for free. So they literally funded my NVQ’s to Level 3, and I immediately applied to go to university. So you can imagine this was 4-5 years in the making of studying just to realise my dream for the first time in my life. I was working as a data analyst. This is the other thing that used to surprise me, even though I had never passed a math exam in my life ever, I was a really good data analyst, I worked for casinos and I was really good at numbers so it did not make sense to me that when I was applying things in real life I would get it just like that. When I was in an exam situation or school situation I did not get it. I did my NVQ’s, I applied to go to Manchester Metropolitan College and I was given the date of the 11th of August 2014, and on that day, I was absolutely prepared because I had been working all my life to get to that point. I remember walking in at 6 o’clock really prepared, cool, calm and collected, I knew I had this in the bag. Sat down and had the interview, you just know when an interview is going well.

TN: Yeah.

CG: I remember the final question that the lady asked me, which by the way was a key question. She said to me is there anything you can tell us that might interfere with your study at this college, and this is a question that they ask because some people have hearing problems, sight problems or dyslexia and they need support. For me my answer was yes, I have just been diagnosed with breast cancer this afternoon. So, what had happened earlier that day is that I had gone for the results of a biopsy that I had done 10 days before and I walked into Layton Hospital only to be told that I had breast cancer. The weird thing is I do not know how anybody knows how to react to being told news like that, I do not think there is the right way to react. For me, I remember briefly closing my eyes and then opening my eyes and just saying, okay what do we do? The doctor starts telling me about the treatment plan that they had, that they were going to take and I just remember gathering my things and starting to walk out the door and there was a nurse sitting there who had a box of tissues to support me and she ran after me and asked where I was going and I told her I had an interview and I had to go. She asked if I actually understood what had just happened and I said, yes, but I needed to go because if I did not leave then I was going to be late so I said I needed to go. She was really worried about me because shock manifests itself in different ways. She said she did not think that I should have been driving at that time. I told her I was going to be driving and I was going to go and I was coming back and was going to discuss the treatment plan, today was not the day I was going to be discussing my mortality.

  • “In Conversation With Trevor” is a weekly show broadcast on YouTube.com//InConversationWithTrevor. Please get your free YouTube subscription to this channel. The conversations are sponsored by Nyaradzo Group.

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