Today, Boitumelo continues her story. You can read the first part of her story here.
In January 2014 I went to Helen Joseph Hospital Breast Clinic for my annual checkup. I was attended to by Dr Benn. The doctor realised that I still have a lump under the right arm. I was sent for more tests. The results confirmed that I had breast cancer. She referred me for chemotherapy at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic hospital. The doctor informed me that I’ll have 6 x cycles of chemotherapy (Gemzar) to be taken every 3 weeks. I had the first three treatments with no problem.
During administration of the fourth treatment, on 27 March, my veins collapsed. I was traumatised as they tried to get a vein in my groin, feet and neck. I was sent home without treatment.
I’d like to inform you that every time I visit CMJAH I leave home at 04h00 and the earliest I get back home is 19h30. I take four taxis one way and the return trip costs R79.00.
I went to the hospital on 17 April, 25 April and 5 May for chemo. They could still not find a vein. From 27 March to 5 May I’d received no treatment. Five gruelling weeks of no vein, no chemo. At this stage Dr Peter Anastacias requested that a port be put in. On 23 May, almost two months since my last chemo, the doctor insisted that I be given treatment. After some struggling and trauma, they found a vein and administered my treatment. I went on 2 June for chemo however back to my lullaby – no vein, no chemo. In the meantime I was sent from pillar to post as there were no ports at CMJAH.
I cried to my fellow breast cancer survivors at our support group. A quick fund raiser, amongst themselves, was done. They managed to raise R6 300 and bought me a port from Donald Gordon Medical Centre. I was admitted on 16 June at CMJAH however the port was only put in on 20 June. During my stay at the hospital I was starved. Every time I asked for food I was told I can’t be given food as I was going to theatre. Four days I stayed in hospital without food.
I went back to hospital on 18 July for chemo. They couldn’t use the port to administer the chemo. Their explanation was that the area around the port was still numb. I went back to CMJAH on 1 August and was told they still didn’t have needles for ports. I went home again with no treatment. One of the staff members mockingly said I should go raise funds again to buy needles. The doctor referred me for scan after observing that the lump was not shrinking.
On 15 August I returned to the hospital. They still could not use the port as the hospital still didn’t have needles. Chemo was administered through a vein on my pointing finger.
On 22 August the doctor told me that the scan has revealed that I now have cancer in the bones and left lung. I was also given chemo, on this day, using vein in the arm. I must mention that having chemo was no “walk in the park”. A vein would be found after a struggle and a scuffle.
With the new diagnosis I now take tablets called Xeloda which I take for 15 days and rest the following 15 days.