Boitumelo’s story, part 2

journeyToday, 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.



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