Landisa: How I moved forward after getting diagnosed with breast cancer in July

2019-12-06 08:50
Marisa Louw

Marisa Louw

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On June 26, 2019, I went to the doctor for my annual health screenings. He gave me a clean bill of health. One month later, I sat across the same doctor as he gave me the bad news: I have breast cancer. The world around me crumbled into a million pieces. In the wink of an eye, I went from healthy to being a cancer patient.

I had no physical symptoms of breast cancer. No lump, no tenderness, no skin changes, no nipple changes. But, a 15mm suspicious mass was picked up during my bi-annual routine mammogram in July.

By the end of August, I had both my breast organs removed, and my breasts were reconstructed to their original size (36D) at the same time using implants. By the end of October, I already had three major surgeries to my breasts, and I started chemotherapy.

Due to wound healing complications, I lost the one implant in November, which means I now only have one breast. And my hair started falling out.

Over the last five months, I have had my spirit broken more times than I care to remember. Some mornings I would look in the mirror and be unable to recognise the person staring back at me. I am a strong and independent woman, but the feeble and fearful woman staring back at me is a stranger. Where is the woman with the entrepreneurial spirit who works 16 to 18 hours a day?

I recall one Sunday afternoon, after my third chemo session. My husband lay down on the bed next to me, spooning me against his body, and the first thought that came into my head was that to take my last breath, right here in his arms, would be the best thing for us both.

But, I cried until I had no tears left, closed my eyes and slept a little, and then got out of bed with a renewed will to survive the big C. I have breast cancer; a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer with a less favourable prognosis. I read about the survival rates of people with invasive lobular pleomorphic breast cancer that is HER2 positive, and it scares me. It scares me more than spiders or the dentist. But I cannot run away from it as I do with spiders, and I cannot avoid it like I do the dentist.

It is what it is. And I believe every person always has a choice. Yes, sometimes you are forced to make a choice under duress which makes it feel like you don't have one. But you always have a choice.

Remember that! When cancer broke my spirit, I made a choice to get up and continue the fight. I did not choose to get cancer, but I can choose not to allow it to destroy the person I am.

Since making this choice, I get up in the mornings and look in the mirror at the person I know. Yes, some days I feel a little fatigued, or I have unfamiliar body aches, or I feel a little restless and "bleugh". But I won't allow cancer to break my spirit again.

Do you have a story to share? Send it to landisa@news24.com and include your contact details and a photo. Visit Landisa for more stories. 

Read more on:    cancer  |  breast cancer  |  landisa
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