Staying active and healthy

We’re on a mission to help you to live an active and healthy life during cancer treatment, to empower you actively to cope with the cancer journey.

The recipies we are sharing are part of that, and here is a great list of things to do (and not to do) to make your journey easier.


    • talk with your loved ones about your feelings of loss, speak to other breast cancer survivors, find support online
    • get adequate pain medication
    • contact your doctor or nurse when you develop problems
    • massage the scars daily, dry or gently with a non-irritating skin oil. There’s a good video here to help you.


  • push yourself: be mild and accept the pace your body is healing at
  • lift or carry anything heavy for the first few weeks after surgery. This includes vacuuming, shopping and lifting a full kettle or a child.

Watch out for:

Wound infection

If your operation site becomes red, inflamed, or painful, or there is a fluid (discharge) leaking from your wound site, you may have an infection. Contact your surgeon or breast care nurse immediately. If you have an infection, you will need antibiotics to clear it up.

Fluid collecting around the operation site (seroma)

Sometimes fluid continues to collect near the wound after your wound drains have been taken out. This is called a seroma. It causes swelling and pain and can increase the risk of infection. The fluid usually goes away on its own. Sometimes a nurse needs to drain the fluid off with a needle and syringe. They may need to do this a few times.

For some women, the fluid takes a long time to go. It can take up to a few months after your surgery.

Nerve pain

You may have numbness or tingling in your upper arm, particularly if you had your lymph nodes removed. This is normal and happens because some nerves are cut during the operation and need to repair themselves. It can take a few weeks or months to go. If it continues, get in touch with your breast care nurse or surgeon.

Swelling of your arm or hand

You may have some swelling in your arm or hand after your operation. This is normal. But it should start to go away as you do the exercises (see below) to get back the movement of your shoulder and arm.

If you continue to get a lot of swelling, heaviness, pain or tenderness in your arm or hand, let your breast care nurse or surgeon know as soon as possible. After surgery or radiotherapy to the armpit, there is a risk of developing permanent swelling called lymphoedema. Once you have lymphoedema it can’t be cured but early treatment can effectively control it. Look at the information about lymphoedema page for ways of preventing lymphoedema.

Scar tissue in the armpit (cording)

Some women develop scar tissue in the armpit (axilla), which forms a tight band. This can happen 6 to 8 weeks after the operation. The scar tissue is called cording or banding and can feel something like a guitar string. Cording is harmless but can be uncomfortable. It can get better after some time if you massage the area of the scar tissue. Your specialist nurse or a physiotherapist can teach you how to do this.

This great advice was shared with us by the fabulous physiotherapist Liesbeth Raymakers



Keeping the balance

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be posting a series of recipies that will help you as you go through treatment. The Cancer Lifeline recipies are divided into three phases:

  • Tough Times, for use when you are very ill, during treatment, while the appetite is poor and the weight low.
  • Clean Machine, for detoxification of the body, post cancer treatment, or to kickstart a holistic health creation programme.
  • Eat Right, to set the right style of eating for the rest of your life to generate optimum health.

The recipies have been created by celebrity chef and nutrition consultant, Jane Sen, for the nourishment and healing of people with cancer. The recipies are part of the Cancer Lifeline Kit by Dr Rosy Daniel, which she has generously shared with us.


Freedom From Information




Do you have a story to tell? Watch this video to discover just how powerful this initiative is.  Click on this link to submit your photograph and story. We want to hear from you. And – by telling your story, you will be adding your voice to the collective shout in raising the national and international awareness that is needed to shake the truth from the trees: South Africa’s people urgently need an equitable and effective breast health policy!


Rayghanah’s story

After feeling a lump in my breast, and being referred for various tests by my GP, changed my life FOREVER.

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) <> . 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


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

Piliswa’s story

DSC_1107I 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.

Anthea’s story

IMG-20150121-WA0004My story began when I went to the gynaecologist for a scan to see my baby. What happened was that I got much more than a scan: the doctor did a head to toe examination. He found a lump in my breast and he sent me to a surgeon for a biopsy the following day.

My happiness changed to sadness because the doctor told me I had cancer.

I had a lot of questions that only God could answer. I woke up at 3am the Saturday morning with a song, God is the alpha and the omega and God can do anything and then I cried nonstop for an hour.

I took the Bible and opened it on Job, and read where Job’s wife asked him why he doesn’t curse God for letting bad things happen to him. Job replied “why do you just want to accept good from God and not the bad?” I got my strength from those words.

The next step was a visit to an oncologist. He did a lot of tests to see if I was strong enough for treatment. He said that if not, they would have to abort the baby. In the year 2008 I was the 27th women who was pregnant and had cancer. I was lucky, I could have treatment because I was strong. God was so good to me. I never got sick, no side effects except for losing my hair. I accepted it and decided to beat cancer.

I received four chemotherapy sessions and on 23 July 2008 I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. The next day she was sent home and I went to the surgical ward for my mastectomy. That morning, as I was preparing myself for surgery, I looked at myself in the mirror and I started to cry. That was when it really hit me – this would be my last moments as a perfect woman. I was scared but God was so good to me.

I did not receive any blood. Even the doctors were amazed and said it was a miracle after I lost so much blood. I went home a few days later and I looked after my own baby with a lot of assistance from family and friends.

I had four more chemo sessions and radiation after that.

Now, six years later, I have dedicated my life to teach women how to do breast self examinations, and to awareness, support groups, counselling. I know my volunteer work could change lives. Women need to know what to look for. They must make time for themselves to check their breasts once a month and to go for a mammogram once a year.

 Anthea Martin

Would you like to share your story? it can be written, it can be a voice clip, it can be a video: we can make it happen! Please contact



Moipone’s story

Moipone Sebiya shares her journey with breast cancer and encourages young women to remember that a diagnisis is not a death sentence