The words that made my ‘world’ come crumbling down: I do not want to beat around the bush, you have cancer! I was so shocked. I cannot recall my reply, what I can recall was a numbness in my body. I felt lost. I thought of death. My thought was, now I can join my mom in heaven…..
As I left his rooms, I thought WHY NOT me? What makes me different to others? My kids were young and I thought let me find opportunity in this challenge. It was not easy and I focused on keeping positive.
I am a stage 4 (last stage) Metastatic Breast Cancer survivor. Metastatic means it has spread, in my case to my breast bone. Currently I am on treatment (infusion) for the Breast Bone. The good news is the cancer is not spreading. My cancer in the bone is incurable. I have been living an active and normal life for the past 10 years. It has changed my life for the BETTER!
Where it all started
Initially I was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer @ age 46. I found my own lump. (90% of women do. By then the lump may be two years old) I went for a mammogram, ultrasound. I was devastated when told I had Breast Cancer. I was low risk however my high levels of Estrogen caused my cancer. I thought WHY NOT ME? (Low risk: I breastfed 4 babies, never smoked, no family history, kept active, ate healthily)
I had a Lumpectomy (removal of the tumor), 8 sessions of chemotherapy, 30 sessions of radiation and was prescribed Tamoksifen tablets to reduce Estrogen that triggered my cancer. I have routine tests every 4th month.
At age age 50, during a routine follow up bonescan, a cancer lesion in the Breast Bone (Sternum) was discovered. This took me to the 4th stage. I was given 10 sessions of radiation and I am on an infusion for the past 10 years.
The Cancer lesion is unchanged therefore I have to remain on the treatment. I was given a tablet, Femara, that does not formulate Estrogen however it has bad side effects: The tablet is costly, it may cause hot flushes, hair loss, joint pain, muscle pain, tiredness, unusual sweating, nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and trouble sleeping. It may even cause anxiety, depression, stroke and headaches
My side effect – My hair and skin are thinner but not my body lol!
Due to leading an active life, I believe, (road running, dragonboat racing and hiking) and a positive mind, I do not suffer any side effects mentioned except dryness/thiness of the skin ect
Since being diagnosed with cancer, I have discovered that my passion in life is far greater than the challenges I have experienced. I have this passion of sharing and caring, of educating about the myths of cancer and early diagnoses. I believe in creating awareness and inspiring others by giving hope and teaching cancer survivors that you can live a more meaningful life living with cancer. I reach out to the less fortunate and they in return remind me of how blessed I am. I do talks in the community, voluntarily, this for me is healing.
I live by the ABC
A – Attitude – I ensure that I remain positive, surround myself with positive people that add value to my life, read positive books, watch positive movies
B – Believe – there is a higher power (God),I connect with God even more, I believe am healed although not cured, I am more sincere in the things I do, I reach out, do awareness of early detection and educate about the disease
C – Choice – I have a choice, therefore I condition my mind and I choose not to let cancer define who I am
· I have joined the Amabele Belles (Breast Cancer Survivor Group on water)www.amabelebelles.co.za <http://www.amabelebelles.co.za> . I have represented Africa in Dragon Boat Paddling in Canada and Malaysia
· I have travelled through our country with Cancervive, we are survivors/supporters on motor cycles, Creating awareness, Educating re cancer , Giving Hope in celebrating Life, Forming Buddie Support Groups and doing Advocacy – we cover the shy cancers: Breast, Cervical, Ovarian, Prostate, Colorectal and Testicular
· I belong to Ommiedraai Hiking and Running Club – they support me with Cancer Projects at GSH
I have been to Walvis Bay, Namibia sharing my story and educating the community with the Cancervive Team
For me, my cancer is a blessing. I have seen the world, NAMIBIA, CANADA, CZECH REP, GERMANY, AUSTRIA, SCOTLAND, SHETLAND ISLES, MALAYSIA, INDONESIA
Before my cancer diagnoses, I was fairly EXISTING. Now I am older and “ill” I run/walk 25km. I have completed over 45 half marathons after my diagnoses. I have completed Two Oceans Half Marathon 7 times. All I long for is a quality, pain free life.
· God only sends His strongest soldiers to battle
· It is not the YEARS in your life that matter but the LIFE in your years
· What matters in life, is reaching out, and making a difference in the lives of others