Cancer is a word, not a sentence

2016-10-04 06:00
Portia Fete has beaten breast cancer. Photo: kalisha naicKer

Portia Fete has beaten breast cancer. Photo: kalisha naicKer

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AT the age of 28, Upper Highway resident, Portia Fete, had never been sick with more than a cold.

She had her whole life ahead of her and had just completed her studies, secured­ her dream job and was planning her wedding.

However, Fete’s life turned upside down in June 2013 when she found a lump in her left breast.

“At first I did not think anything of the lump as I had a cyst before and my doctors told me it is due to a hormone imbalance, and hair follicles.

“But this lump was different. It did not hurt when I touched it - like the cysts usually did - but it kept growing.”

She eventually booked an appointment with her gynecologist, who examined­ the lump, and referred her to a doctor who specialises in breast cancer.

After a series of tests, she received the news that she had breast cancer.

“That day I drove to my boyfriend’s house and cried. I wasn’t really sure what everything meant. My only experiences with cancer were death sentences.

“I went in for an MRI and examinations, and met with a breast surgeon and plastic surgeon, and during all of these doctors’ appointments all I could think of was that my life was over.”

Fete said she pushed everyone away, her boyfriend, family and friends - she just wanted to be alone.

“Depression got the better of me. I cried myself to sleep most of the time. One night I was on YouTube and while watching stories from other survivors I came across a video about a lady, who was 55, and who had beaten the odds. She said that God helped her get through it.

“It dawned on me that God puts us through these tests for a reason and makes us reaffirm our faith in Him. I immediately opened my Bible and prayed for guidance.”

Fete said after letting God in she was able to let in all those she pushed away. And the love and support in her life was exactly what she needed.

“This is when I start thinking, ‘I can do this. I’ve got this’. On chemo I lost my hair and developed acne, bloating, bone pain and exhaustion. I even had to pull over while driving to vomit out of the car.

“So now I’m here, done with chemo. My hair has grown back and most of my acne is gone. I made it. I beat cancer. This whole thing has really opened my eyes and made me face my own mortality.”

Fete says she insists on sharing her story to let others know they’re not alone, that there are other women going­ through the same thing, and that they too, can be strong and survive.

“I share my story for others to read when they aren’t feeling their strongest and are overwhelmed by the struggle. I want to remind myself that with faith, love and family anything is possible.

“Don’t ever give up hope, with God by your side you can get through anything” is her message to those battling cancer.

Signs or symptoms of breast cancer

• Swelling of all or part of a breast,even if no distinct lump is felt.

• Skin irritation or dimpling

• Breast or nipple pain

• Nipple retraction - turning inward

• Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin

• Nipple discharge, other than breast milk

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