Cancer is not a death sentence

2016-10-18 06:00
Alexis Yapp - beating breast cancer and loving life. Photo: Sarah Brauns

Alexis Yapp - beating breast cancer and loving life. Photo: Sarah Brauns

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AT 23 Alexis Yapp was in the prime of her life and going through a life-threatening illness, let alone cancer, never crossed her mind.

However, in October 2004 she felt a lump under her arm which the doctor told her was glandular fever, and sent her home with antibiotics.

Yapp could not shake the feeling that something was not right and when she went back to the doctor the second time he sent her home with a stronger antibiotics.

Yapp’s symptoms did not fade and at her third visit she told the doctor that the lumps had spread to her neck and she was very concerned.

“Although I felt uneasy I never once thought I had cancer. The doctor sent me for blood tests, which strangely came back clear, and a ultrasound, which showed 13 lumps under my arm and two in my neck.

“I got the news that I had non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and was booked in for a biopsy.

“On 14 November I was told by surgeon Dr Teichardt that I had cancer­,” she said.

Yapp was alone in the doctors’ rooms when he told her and it was the worst moment of her life.

“I will never forget phoning my mom to tell her I had cancer.

“On 15 November­ my family and I headed to Wilgers Oncology Centre in Pretoria to meet Dr Alberts and go through a series­ of tests - bloods, CT scans, X-rays, bone marrow, cardiologist check-up, and so on.

“On 19 November my results came back and I was diagnosed with stage 3 non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.

“My treatment included six months’ chemo - two hours every three weeks.

“My last chemo date was 20 April, 2005, and one month of radiation, May 2005,” she said.

However, since her treatment Yapp now suffers with Lymphedema in her right arm, which is incurable, but says she is blessed to be alive.

• Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma is a cancer that starts in cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the body’s immune system.
• Lymphedema refers to swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Sometimes both arms or both legs swell. Lymphedema is most commonly caused by the removal of or damage to your lymph nodes as a part of cancer treatment.

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