Freda de Lange | Breast Cancer

After no signs of ill health I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2008. My Doctor husband, Callie, who works overseas and was in Iraq at the time, hurried home and joined my son, Carl and daughter Mirka to help me take on this challenge. I had to have a mastectomy of my left breast and five months of chemotherapy. It was at this time I decided to make a bucket list.


I’ve always believed a person mustn’t wait for a ride in the last limousine so after the cancer was diagnosed I decided to actively pursue my dreams. I love to travel and explore. My first journey was chemotherapy and losing my long blond hair. I bought four Chinese wigs which I decorated with fancy hair bands and clips and Mirka cheered me up by painting henna patterns on my head. We live on a small farm outside Parys along the Vaal River and the peace and tranquillity of this environment as well as a lot of happy, positive friends really helped me to recover. I suffered a setback two years after diagnosis when I had a minor stroke but this actually galvanised my determination to return to good health.

My first adventure was with my dear friend Lizzie Botha, who I refer to as my second Mother. We travelled to the Eastern Cape where Lizzie taught me to crochet. We visited many small art and craft shops where I was inspired to once again make chunky jewellery and hand-made brooches. This led to opportunities for me to sell my creations at markets around the country including Aardklop. Local artists had been commissioned to paint and sculpt cancer survivors from the area for an exhibition at Aardklop 2011. Two artists chose to paint an artistic portrait translation of my life story and another did a clay bust sculpture of myself wearing a hat upon which sat a clay bus, aeroplane and butterfly and around my neck sits one of my chunky jewellery necklaces. All three of these artworks were bought by the Wilmed Park Oncology Unit in Klerksdorp.

My most recent adventure was a trip with a friend to Napier who, with her donkey Naomi, were looking to relocate there. We found a suitable house in the main street which had a large back garden the size of a small farm for Naomi. This trip was such fun and made my recovery a more pleasant journey. My most special trip was with Lizzie to visit Callie in Luanda, Angola. It was here where I realised you can communicate with people without using language if you just smile and use hand signals. I met a girl there called Catrina who said:

”Where your feet land, you must be happy and both good and bad comes from God.”
I changed my wardrobe and became more free (da) in my choice of colour and patterns and delight in dressing in a happy, funky way. At night time when I can’t sleep I write mini stories about my beside lamp or my kitchen cupboard. Chemotherapy became a happy journey to good health.

My day to day journey is just as full as my many adventures and I am always in the process of planning my next trip. 

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