Thriver: This is the new identity, that being diagnosed with Breast Cancer at the age of 32 has been revealed to me.
Having no family history of breast cancer or any cancer within my family, I found a lump in my breast and didn’t want to have my life inconvenienced by it, so I made the mistake many women make and I chose to ignore it. I’ve always listened to my body but it took me having food poisoning two weeks later to see my GP and have a ‘’by the way doc I have this lump’’ conversation because my body was now screaming at me that something was not right which led to blood tests, a mammogram, a biopsy and I found myself listening to my surgeon tell me that I now had this dreaded disease. Hearing those words forever changed my life, and although it has taken now 4 years of treatment and procedures and many highs and lows I still wake up everyday with so much gratitude in my heart, because I am alive, because I listened to my body when something felt wrong.
I had a breast lumpectomy 10 days after being diagnosed and that was when my diagnosis was confirmed to be an aggressive Stage 2 Hormone positive breast cancer. Given my type of cancer, I underwent tubal ligation surgery before I started chemotherapy as a preventative measure, because a hormone surge caused by pregnancy could be detrimental to me. My body could only tolerate 3 out of the 4 rounds of chemotherapy followed by 36 radiation sessions which left me fighting cellulitis infections and lymphoedema throughout my treatments.
8 weeks after radiation was completed I began my 10 year journey on hormone therapy, which consisted of daily aromasin tablets and 3 monthly zoladex implants. I attempted to reintegrate into my position at the large corporate I am employed by and very quickly was confronted by the challenges cognitively that I now faced because of Chemo brain and Estrogen stripping which had placed me in chemically induced Menopause at the age of 33. Hot flushes, insomnia, bone degeneration, constant aches and pains, easily bruising, weight gain, depression and anxiety, to name a few of the conditions I live with to BE ALIVE.
Despite these conditions I made the choice to never be defined by them, I’ve never been someone who conformed to any social norm. This journey has taught me that the only box I will ever fit into will one day be a coffin, but until then I will accept what has been thrown my way. I completed 18 months of these treatments whilst trying to manage the many side effects they came with in addition to those of Chemotherapy and radiation and just the mental and emotional exhaustion I felt from living with Cancer and the countless ways it had forever changed my life. I made the tough decision to have a complete hysterectomy in November 2019 and to continue on Tamoxifen for the duration of my 10 years. Although it was my personal choice to not have children, having that choice taken from me is still a deeply rooted pain I struggle with until this day.
It feels as though the world stops turning when you are diagnosed with cancer at any stage however, life around you continues, some will support your journey, some pity you, some inspire and encourage you, some don’t know how to behave around you and some will even betray you, which was what I experienced during my treatment. I was in a toxic relationship and even before my cancer diagnosis, my partner cheated on me and worse still he cheated during my active treatment and even after we became engaged months later. Depression and anxiety is normal to experience when diagnosed with a dreaded disease, now add to that a cheating partner, when the very treatments I was undergoing to live was physically affecting my femininity and ravaging my self confidence and body. I am however a huge believer in forgiveness because I’ve learnt that forgiveness is for my own peace of mind before it is for the person or disease that has aggrieved me. So I forgave him and my body and for failing me, I have enough ‘’baggage’’ to carry around without having to carry the weight of his transgressions and I can only control my reaction to his actions and how they affect my life.
I walked away from that toxic relationship in March 2020 and made the choice to be always be Authentically who I now am, with the loving support of my family & friends I am now living my Purpose in life, I am a Motivational Speaker, I am a director of two NPC’s The Equality Foundation and The Durban Youth Council, I am also the Director of my own NPO MM Empowerment and I am focusing on skills development and community upliftment, I am the Volunteer Regional Co ordinator of Look Good Feel Better.
I am also the Brand Ambassador for two Phenomenal initiatives Ross Ink Aesthetics and Calypso with a cause
Ross Ink Aesthetics
Launched the Virtual Areola for breast cancer patients who require an Areola tattoo, this amazing and much need initiative in the Breast Cancer community by Regan and Clarissa Ross the dynamic husband and wife duo, will restore the self confidence of so many women who face the constant reminder of their loss despite their triumph over cancer. The process caters to the sensitivity of the patient’s journey. Having an aesthetic Areola tattoo may seem fickle to some but to a woman who sees her scars when she is alone can be taken her back be a very dark and emotional place but the hope and confidence that this tattoo brings is unquestionable assurance.
Calypso with a Cause
I was introduced by my amazing Oncologist Dr Lucille Heslop to Michelle Starling a breast cancer survivor and owner of Calypso Collections, we had a chat about her vision for Calypso with a cause and in the blink of an eye we became Breasties. Calypso with a Cause has pledged a Percentage of store and online sales from their gorgeous collections to help women who is or have faced breast cancer with the a relevant gift or treatment that they deserve.
As the Brand Ambassador for the these amazing initiatives I am always seeking sponsorships to ensure we change the lives of many women and in turn, their families too.
Breast Cancer has taken so much from me, I accept that, I will not be defined by it and I choose to have a positive outlook and inspire others and above all I am a Thriver.
All my love