CATHERINE

THOMPSON

My Year with Cancer

 

I have a history of breast cancer in my family and so each year on my birthday (February) made sure to book all the necessary appointments. My mammogram was clear and an ultra sound was also done and all clear. 

 

In June 2019 I fell down the staircase in our house on the way to make coffee for the family before school at 5am. It was a bad fall but nothing broken. Because my arm was so sore and tight, I was stretching it in the shower one morning before rushing off to school lifts and meetings. I found a lump in my armpit. It was not alarming but enough for me to show my husband, who insisted I go and get it checked out. 

 

I called the Bone & Breast Clinic who made an arrangement for me to go in that afternoon. I felt that it was dramatic and was convinced that it was to do with my arm being so sore. From the moment that the radiologist looked at the lump on the ultra sound she clearly knew there was something amiss. A biopsy was taken, lots of mammograms done and a big cup of sweet tea poured. 

 

After hearing the news that I had lymphoma I was booked for surgery immediately. The waiting was the absolute worst as the results from the lab took a week to come back. I had aggressive Non-Hodgkins T-Cell Lymphoma. What did this even mean? I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror - that would make it real.  

 

At this stage the fear was too unbearable. I was 45. Every time I filled in a form for the CT Scan, the bloods, the Oncologist (WHAT!) I kept thinking it was not real, they must be wrong, how can this be in our beautiful family. 

 

My Oncologist, Dr Mayet, is the kindest doctor I have known. One step at a time and make sure that you remain positive. Things slowed down after the lymphoma was staged and we celebrated a Stage 1 discovery. 

 

We always scheduled chemo for a Monday morning. Nic by my side at every appointment. He shaved my head and I gave my hair to the birds to nest in. Matthew was present at every step and we discussed the fear, amazing medical advancement and recovery with him. 

 

Life was a blur and we were supported in so many ways. It was only after we had the halfway scan that showed an enormous reduction in the size of the remaining lymphs that I started to take control. I read and read. I had the support from international Lymphoma groups - sadly I had not found Evy.

 

Looking after my body and preparing for each round of chemo gave me power and strength. I did a lot of meditation and I didn’t miss one sports game, Nic always driving me and helping me to make sure I was there for my Matt. Hat on and smile in place. 

 

It was overwhelming how our family and friends cared for us. How the children at school were so kind and gentle. A lesson that it need not take such a shocking experience to tell someone you love them or do an act of kindness. 

 

In December 2019 I received the excellent news of remission. We did it. I continue to see my doctor every 3 months and the fabulous PET scan every 6 months.

 

Constant strength of mind and taking the stress out of life, is what I try to focus on. 

 

In sharing my story, I hope to help at least one person think twice about a strange bump or lump. If I had not acted so swiftly my story could be very different. 

 

Love and healing to those who continue to fight xx

 

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Email: evy@filotimo.org.za

Phone: 076 719 8358

Registered Charity: 

NPO 233-525

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