I kicked cancer!

By admin
05 September 2013

This is the final of a three-part inspirational series. Rayghanah Cassiem, a retirement fund authoriser from Heideveld, Cape Town shares how she survived breast and breast bone cancer.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. My tumour was removed but they gave me five years to live. Then in 2009, I was diagnosed with breast bone cancer for which I received chemotherapy.

The chemotherapy was terrible and I always felt, during that time, that my body smelled like it had been sprayed with doom. But I was alive! And continue to live and live a full life!

Now I am in remission and it’s important to live an active life and help others. The day I was told I have cancer, I thought, “let me use this challenge as a learning curve for myself and others”.

I belong to a Breast Cancer Support group – amabelebelles.co.za where we do water paddling and charity work.  I also belong to cancervive.co.za, a group of cancer survivors who are making a difference by educating the less fortunate across the country. I also work with Project Flamingo, a project at Groote Schuur Hospital needing funds.

I also participate in Zumba, road running, hiking and paddling to keep me alive/sane. Every day, I count my blessings and realise that I am responsible for my own happiness.

I had to condition my own mind and live better. I had to do motivational talks to help others and myself. By reaching out to others, it helped me.

The chemo and radiation were not easy but it was manageable. I had eight sessions, one every three weeks and 30 radiations on the affected breast in 2005. I am currently on chemo for breast bone cancer. I go for chemo four times a year and for radiation on the breast bone.

I have received support from family in friends in various ways. One of my friends even had asked a domestic worker to assist me. SMSes, phone calls, emails and visits meant a lot. I walked on the beach many times with my sister as it was soothing. I had friends going with me for chemo. With this challenge you discover who your real family and friends are.

The old me

I just existed. I did not live life consciously. I focused on my family and my job instead of also making time for myself. I never gave cancer a thought. I never thought I’d be a candidate for breast cancer, I ate reasonably healthy meals, I never smoked, nor do I have a family history of cancer. But I certainly did not appreciate life like I do now.

The new me Now I put God first and then myself. I have “me” time that I never had before. I make time for things that are important to me. I am feeling healthier and I do things that are fun. I meet many people from all walks of life. I do inspirational talks. The more I share my story the better I feel about myself. I am being told how I inspire others. This to me is proof that my purpose in life is greater than my challenge. I feel good about my condition as my appearance is not that of someone living with cancer. I do not let the disease define who I am. I have missed the cut-off for the Two Oceans half marathon for five years. This year I completed the distance prior to cut-off, this for me was the biggest challenge.

My top tips

& Live in the “now”.

& Change starts with you; love yourself first to make that change .

& Become active: road running, water paddling, hiking or whatever sport/hobby you love doing.

& Do the things you love.

& Join clubs or groups.

& Get involved with community work and make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small. Give of yourself. There are old age homes (cut nails, wash hair, take magazines etc), orphanages (spend time with an orphan, tell them stories) it will not cost much. The reward is greater than what you will give.

& Only you can make that change. It is important to live a healthy, fun and quality life. It adds happy years to your life. Sometimes your purpose in life is greater than any challenge.

- By Faiza Mallick

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