My entire life has changed because of this cancer. I am stronger, calmer, more centred, my sense of humour has surfaced, I distance myself from negative people and I am more positive.
I was 33 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At that stage I could not put my arm next to my body when I lay in the bath because of the mass in my breast. I was in a very stressful job – high school teacher.
As an Ex Western Province swimmer and biathlete, my health has always been my top priority. I was swimming three times a week and going to gym on a regular basis.
In December 2000 I noticed that my left nipple was inverted. My neighbour is a Professor of Gynaecology and Obstetrics and I asked her what she thought. She directed me to Constantiaberg Clinic. The doctor took a biopsy and told me to wait three days – the longest of my life. The doctor phoned me after further tests to confirm that I had breast cancer. The tumour was 7 cm and all my nodes under my arm were infected – which meant that the cancer had spread.
I then had to have 6 sessions of chemo and after that 25 sessions of radiation therapy. .
In December 2001 I had reconstructive surgery - TRAMFLAP operation. This is where your stomach forms a new breast. I had a 7 hour op and came out with a flat tummy and a new breast.
In December 2003 after a routine check up, a very small tumour was picked up in my right breast. I had my second mastectomy and immediate reconstruction done.
My humour, my faith and the immeasurable support from my mother, my sister and her family and my gynaecologist neighbour Zephne are my core survival pillars. My little dachshund – Lotti – who since has had to be put down – stuck by my side throughout the nausea with chemo and the burns from radiation.
My entire life has changed because of this cancer. I am stronger, calmer, more centred, my sense of humour has surfaced, I distance myself from negative people and I am more positive. I have faced real things, spoken in front of groups, spoken on the radio, done a 5 day cycle trip through the Swartberg Pass, attended conferences, learnt more about who I am and what I am capable of.