I was just 24 years old in August 2013 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. No one in my family had ever had cancer, so it was difficult to know what to do.
My mother wanted me to wait and see how it would turn out, but I made the decision to go for the operation straight away, so less than a month after the diagnosis, I had a mastectomy of my right breast and began the treatment regime: chemotherapy, radiation and an expander to prepare me for a later reconstruction.
Unfortunately there was some infection so two months after the operation the expander had to be removed.
At the time that I found my breast lump, I was working at New Somerset Hospital as an anaesthetic nurse, so I was in a very supportive environment. That made a big difference to me because I was far away from my family in Kokstad, so my colleagues became my family.
I also had a good medical aid so I was able to get treatment at the UCT Private Ward.
I will taking Tamoxifen for the next five years, and it is not great. It makes me feel like an old woman, going through menopause, so I have to remind myself I am still in my 20s! it is worth it, though – I have my whole life ahead of me.
In my community, there is a tendency to wait and see what happens rather than seeking immediate treatment if you find something wrong in your body. I am so glad that I did not wait. The best course of action if you find something early is to attack it head on. Make the best possible decision quickly.
I have decided to go back to my studies so I have joined the enrolled nurse training at Life Healthcare. After a year of facing death, I needed some excitement back in my life. I am also rowing with AmaBelleBelles.
My dream is to work in the community and to educate people about breast cancer. I survived. I made it, and other people can too. Cancer can hit the youngest of people, it is up to you how you deal with it.