CLAUDIA MENDES SAVVIDES
DIAGNOSED : 28th FEBRUARY 2017
CANCER TYPE : STAGE II B HPV CERVICAL CANCER
IM HONORED AND BLESSED TO BE AFFORDED THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE MY JOURNEY WITH THE MACHI FILOTIMO CANCER PROJECT AND TO BE JOINING THE CANCER CHAMPION FAMILY.
Before being diagnosed with cancer my journey began six months prior to me finding out the real diagnosis of my health. It started in the month of August 2016, whereby I was experiencing severe pain on the right side of my sciatica (pain affecting the back, hip, and outer side of the leg caused by compression of a spinal nerve root in the lower back).
Having numerous consultations with my gynecologist and various tests and scans done.
November 2016 - The diagnosis of my condition was a cervical fibroid which compressed the mid rectum- associated to constipation.
The advice given to me at the time was that fibroids was common in woman and that the associated constipation could be self-managed with prescribed medication. Furthermore, to be told that I would need to relook at my lifestyle and daily eating habits.
Being a frequent traveler and an active athlete became very difficult to manage this diagnosis as having to change my eating habits and lifestyle was not easy.
The pain progressively got worse. This diagnosis was such a burden to my daily life as an athlete and traveler that eventually I decided to take 6 anti-inflammatories on a daily basis.
This was to suppress the debilitating pain that I continuously experienced on an ongoing daily basis in order to experience some form of normality throughout the day. (a pain free lifestyle)
Needless to say, this continued for months and was still advised by my gynecologist that it was constipation related and I would need to accustom myself and adapt to my new way of living.
7 MONTHS LATER
The daily overdose of the anti-inflammatories was getting to me and the pain was retrogressing. This led me to seek a second opinion from an alternative gynecologist.
After extensive blood tests and scans, the doctors confirmed that I was wrongly misdiagnosed and that my current diagnosis was HPV Stage II B Cervical Cancer.
28 FEBRUARY 2017 – DIAGNOSED HPV STAGE II B CERVICAL CANCER
From being a healthy, active athlete since the age of 6, a frequent traveler, a creative for the entertainment industry, a fashion influencer……. never being a day sick nor having any underlying illnesses or ever experiencing a hospital for any form of procedures. Always religious about my health and well-being with yearly health checkups.
Never did I foresee the day that I would be sitting in a doctors consulting room to be told that I would be diagnosed with Cancer to the Cervix. I had no choice in the matter except to “live or die “.
Chemotherapy and radiation could be my life saver!
I did not have the option of egg freezing for In Vitro Fertilization in order for me to have children at a later stage, as time was not on my side.
Hysterectomy was not an option due to the late stage of the cancer, and the fear that the cancer would spread.
And that women with my diagnosis Stage II Cervical Cancer have a 5-year survival rate of 58% to 63%.
6 MARCH 2017
Head of Oncology Sandton – various scans and consults between radiologist and oncologist deciding on the treatment for my diagnosis.
6 Weeks Aggressive Chemotherapy
6 Weeks Daily Radiation Monday – Friday (around the lower abdomen and pelvis)
4 days Treatment of Brachytherapy (the radiation source is placed in a device in the cervix and radiated)
8 MARCH 2017
Day of celebration – My Birthday
Instead I celebrated it in a ward room with a drip attached to my hand:
drip 1. Cortisone
drip 2. Lasix
drip 3. Chemo
drip 4. Multivitamin Booster
What I knew my life to be four hours prior to chemotherapy hand now been a game changer for the rest of my life.
My chemotherapy side affects:
Instant weight loss from 52kg to 40kgs in just two weeks.
Change of smell (everything smelt like dead corpses)
No sense of taste
Could only consume liquids
Nauseas, severe vomiting
Change in hearing
Numbness in feet and hands
Daily treatments of radiation from Monday to Friday for 10 minutes.
Last four treatments were Brachytherapy.
My radiation side effects:
Nauseas and vomiting
Skin changes (redness to the skin, peeling and flaking of the skin)
In order for me to get through the 6 weeks ordeal of chemotherapy and radiation, my only motivation was survival mode and that being that I was not going to allow a dreaded disease like cancer take complete control of my me.
My personal trainer motivated me that “Toughness is in the soul and spirit not in the muscles.”
From this day on wards, my daily motivation was:
Cancer is so limited.
Cancer cannot cripple my love.
Cancer cannot shatter my hope.
Cancer cannot corrode my faith.
Cancer cannot destroy my inner peace.
Cancer cannot suppress my memories.
Cancer cannot silence my courage.
Cancer cannot invade my soul.
Cancer cannot steal my internal life.
And it cannot conquer my Spirit.
Cancer was nothing more than a chapter in my life’s story. It would never be my life’s story.
Cancer changed me. It sculpted me into someone who understands others more deeply, that I’m able to hurt more often, appreciate the simplicity of life more quickly, easily cry for myself and others, to desperately hope more, to love more openly and unconditionally and to live more passionately!
20 APRIL 2017 - COMPLETION OF TREATMENT
Cancer has not defined me..... in actual fact, it’s inspired me to inspire others to be
( S U R V I V O R S )
*to beat the odds, one with great courage and strength, a true inspiration
CURRENT DATE YEAR 2020 – IN REMISSION
Long story short, I survived!
“the fire inside me burned brighter than the fire around me“
Claudia Mendes Savvides