Posts

Breast cancer is a nightmare roller-coaster ride

Image
  Since this is my first blog for 2022, I feel obliged to start it with "Happy New Year!", "Happy Valentine's!" and "Happy Easter!". I have lived with Stage II Grade III  invasive pleomorphic lobular carcinoma (PLC) of the breast  that is  hormone-  and  HER2 positive  for 1,001 days. Living with hormone-positive breast cancer is a roller-coaster ride nightmare that doesn't seem to end.  The first phase is waiting - waiting for the results of the numerous diagnostic tests is like standing in the queue to get onto a roller-coaster. You get tired and often think of leaving the line. Then starts the second phase - that killer climb to the top of the first hill. You've now found out that you have breast cancer. Several doctors confirmed it. The many available treatment options are confusing. With each click of the chain lift, you learn something new, or there are more medical aid forms to fill out. It feels as if you need to rush to make a decision

Scanxiety - the fear and anxiety related to cancer check-ups

Image
Next week Friday, I am going for my three-monthly breast cancer check-up. The fear and anxiety that I experience during the time leading up to these check-ups can be disabling. Thousands of 'what ifs' occupy my thoughts. I have disturbing dreams, don't sleep well, and feel generally demotivated.  Last week I decided to call my psychologist for a consultation, and yesterday we discussed my fears and feelings. Although I now better understand why I'm feeling the way I do, it does not take away the anxiety that I experience. When I'm anxious, I get grumpy and snap at everyone around me. I struggle to concentrate and make mistakes that I wouldn't usually make. I eat more, which makes me depressed because I cannot shake off the 20 kg I gained during chemotherapy. And, as a result, I eat even more! I stop caring for myself; taking a shower is a massive chore that drains the little strength I have. All my energy goes into worrying about something that I have no control

Mammography as a screening tool - A patient's perspective

Image
  First published on  Bizcommunity  on 12 October 2021. Within South Africa, healthcare professionals registered 15,491 new breast cancer cases last year, making it the leading carcinoma in females across population groups. Researchers estimate that, by 2040, the number will increase to more than 22,000 new cases . Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in South African women, with nearly 5,000 deaths recorded in 2020. The mammogram debate - diagnostic or screening tool? Research published in the October 2018 issue of the SA Journal of Radiology states that "screening has been shown through studies to reduce the breast cancer mortality rate by 30% – 40%." Nevertheless, the National Department of Health's Breast Cancer Control and Prevention Policy (June 2017) questions the value of screening mammography and that it "should not be introduced unless resources are available to ensure effective and reliable screening of at least 70 per cent of

Inspired by Breast Cancer

Image
When the doctor told me in August 2019 that I have Grade 3 Stage 2 breast cancer, I decided to document my journey. Firstly, writing is my way to deal with my emotions; secondly, I want to help others. I said to myself: "If my story touches one person's life and help them overcome their challenges, I can die knowing that I accomplished something." I have since been telling my story with absolute honesty. I share my deepest, darkest feelings and emotions. I narrate the good times and positive things. And I describe the terrible moments and negative things. My first blog entry was on  24 August 2019 . At the time, I was in denial, angry, and confused. Five days after my double mastectomy, in  September 2019 , cancer broke my spirit. By the time I was halfway through chemotherapy, in  December 2019 , I felt more positive again. But the lingering side effects of chemo drove me into  deep darkness  by May 2020. My GP started me on anti-depressants, and by  December 2020 , I wa