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Compassion, honour, and heart

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  And so we have come to the start of yet another year. 48 winters have come and gone, and I remember many good and bad times. But this time of the year, I reflect on the good times.    Camping weekends in Kareekloof. Early morning walks with my beloved father, listening to the baboons barking in the distance. Breakfast - like only my father can prepare - horse rides, water slides, and watching the night sky for satellites.   Bike rides. How I loved putting my arms around my father as I rode on the back of his bike. I must have been about six or seven years old when he bought his first motorbike. My helmet was blue - it has always been my favourite colour.   Performing arts is the core of my being. Some of my earliest memories are of my grandfather entertaining us with stories and songs and playing the harmonica. My father played the piano, and my mother the organ. One of ABBA's songs describes me: "Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk. She said I began to sing long

Living with breast cancer - year three

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For those new to my blog, I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Grade 3 Invasive Pleomorphic Lobular Carcinoma of the Breast that is HER2- and hormone receptor-positive in August 2019. Different types of breast cancer Stage 2 means the tumour is larger than 20 mm and has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes. Grade 3 means faster-growing cancer that is more likely to spread. Invasive applies to cancer that has spread from where it began in the breast to surrounding normal tissue. Pleomorphic refers to how the cells appear under the microscope - multiple shapes and sizes. The cells display abnormal cores and irregular cellular division. The term lobular speaks about where the tumour originated - in the breast's milk-producing glands or lobules.  HER2 is the acronym for the protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. The HER2 receptor has a vital role in normal cell growth and division. In HER2-positive cancers, the cells have extra copies of the gene that makes the HER2 protein

Never give up!

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While I was sitting in the waiting area of the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre oncology practice earlier this week, the lady beside me started a discussion. She has been coming here every six months for the past 15 years for her follow-up appointments for breast cancer. Like me, her breast cancer is positive for hormone and HER2 receptors. She had a double mastectomy, received chemo- and radiation therapy, and has been on Tamoxifen for 10 years. All of this she shared with me with a smile; her eyes were bright, and she radiated positivity.  Her journey was not without hardship. She gained 36 kg during her first two years of treatment and struggled with the drugs' side effects. She would get anxious in the weeks leading up to her follow-up appointment. "Even though I've been in remission for 10 years, the fear never really goes away," she told me. "But I had to keep going because there is so much to live for."  Her message came to me at a crossroads in my b

My breast cancer journey - a timeline of events

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  What follows is a timeline of defining moments in my journey to date. Updated on 9 September 2022. 2019 8 July 2019: Routine  mammogram 9 July 2019: Second opinion mammogram 11 July 2019:  Fine needle aspiration 23 July 2019: The family doctor tells me that I have breast cancer 1-3 August 2019: Hospitalised for a  surgical biopsy 30 Aug-1 Sep 2019: Hospitalised for bilateral  mastectomy and direct-to-implant reconstruction 27-29 September 2019: Hospitalised for  debridement  of the wounds 25 October 2019: Start with chemotherapy ( Taxol  once a week - 18 treatment cycles) 13-14 November 2019: Hospitalised to remove the right implant 22 November 2019: Start with  Herceptin  injections (once every three weeks - 15 treatment cycles) 2020 6 March 2020: Last chemotherapy session! 27 March 2020: COVID-19 lockdown 9 April 2020: Start  Tamoxifen  hormone-blocking therapy 6-8 May 2020: Hospitalised to insert a  tissue expander  in the right breast 20 November 2020: Last Herceptin injection! &