October being Breast CANCER Awareness month, I asked a friend and colleague whose journey we praying is over, to share her experience.
A single mom of now three teenagers in her naughty forties. She lost her husband eight years ago, forcing Kanitha to quickly learn to fend for herself and her children. Life has taken her completely out of her comfort zone. She is winning her battle against CANCER whilst balancing life and work demands successfully.
In her spare time, Kanitha enjoys cooking for her beautiful family and friends, while appreciating her own personal space too. She loves being comfortable and binge watching series.
I hope her story resonates and inspires you…
HKL – What made you consult your doctor to check for cancerous lumps?
KM – Breast cancer has become so common today when I felt the lump I freaked out. As much as I wanted the lump not to be cancerous, deep down I knew it was and all I wanted was to have it removed as soon as possible.
HKL – What kind of CANCER was it and at watch stage were you at when diagnosed?
KM – I was diagnosed with stage 1 HER2 positive breast cancer.
HKL – Do you have any other family history of breast cancer or cancer in general?
KM – Not breast cancer. My grandmother was diagnosed with stomach cancer.
HKL – What emotions did you experience when your worst fears were confirmed?
KM – At first, I went numb… then I was consumed by fear. Fear of death! Fear of suffering! Fear for my children being orphaned so young. I felt a caught in a whirlwind of different emotions. I felt very extremely overwhelmed at the time.
HKL – How did your family and friends react to your news?
KM – It was a huge shock to everyone. There were tears and many more tears. Through the support and love I received, I felt a calmness within me. I opted not to share the journey I was on with too many people for one specific reason, I didn’t want anyone’s pity. I am extremely grateful for my sister Debbie and my kids, they have been my rock. To be honest I don’t know how I would have coped without them.
HKL – What route of treatment were/are you on?
KM – I consulted with Dr. Carol Anne Benn an expert in Breast CANCER who helped calmed my fluttering heart, put me at ease and recommended a treatment plan for me. As the Breast CANCER I had, was aggressive in nature and we had to take action fast.
First I had a complete mastectomy of my cancerous breast. I had the option to undergo immediate reconstructive surgery of my affected breast, so I took it. I had a breast reconstruction surgery with latissimus dorsi flap. The surgeon made an incision in my back so that she could have access to a muscle that won’t be “missed” and it was used to reconstruct my affected breast. The surgeon then reduced my healthy breast to give me a balanced chest.
A few weeks later I experienced my first round of chemotherapy, Adriamycin aka the RED DEVIL as it is more commonly know. This phase of my treatment was horrible, I now appreciate why it is called the red devil, I felt really feel terrible after each session. I had to go in for a dose once every three weeks for four sessions. After completing those four doses I progressed to twelve weekly Taxol chemos. This was followed by thirty-six daily sessions of radiation. My treatment isn’t over yet. I have progressed to monthly Herceptin chemo, I will be on this treatment for just under 12 months, along with chemo tablet called Tamoxifen for the next 5 years. Until now Dr. Benn seems happy with my progress.
HKL – Have you encounter any obstacles during your treatment process so far?
KM – No obstacles really, but I have learned to appreciate my Medical Aid and the Dread Diseases policies I had taken out. You know those that you keep asking yourself why you need it, and how they are just taking your money but you will never claim. They are bloody handy today! These treatments are not cheap.
HKL – How have you been coping with treatment so far?
KM – From my list of treatments, you can see it’s been rather hectic. There’s have been many after effects. I listen to my doctors and follow instructions to the tee, I’m not taking any chances with this beast! I make damn sure listen to my body, so if I feel weak I make sure stay in bed and rest. It’s not worth trying to be a hero, it catches up with you during your recovery and it’s really not worth the pain.
HKL – How have you managed to keep your spirits up over the last 12 months?
KM – I have put my trust in the Almighty and I keep praying and believing that He will heal me completely. My family and friends have simply been amazing the last year. The doctors and the staff at the treatment centers I met have been amazing, giving me so much encouragement and support throughout, how can I not have faith that I will beat it? An important part of this journey for me was acceptance and believing that I will get through it. I will SURVIVE! My teens also help me to focus on other areas of my life, they keep me busy all the time. There’s help with homework and projects, through to parties that they want to attend. My kids keep my busy as well. Focusing on them and their needs allows me to not give this CANCER any more airtime than it has already consumed in my life.
ALL WOMEN SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT A MAMMOGRAM IS NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF. IT’S NOT AN ENEMY BUT A FRIEND. EARLY DETECTION IS THE KEY TO THE CURE
HKL – Any advice you can share for other women starting off on this journey?
KM – It’s very important to check your body regularly, by doing this you will get to know your body and pick up any changes easier. Go for regular check-ups with your gynecologist and for a mammogram. Listen to the doctors and don’t be afraid to ask questions. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to listen to your body. If you feel exhausted and need to lay down, even though the laundry and dishes need to be done, just go rest, those dishes and the laundry aren’t going anywhere. Don’t push too hard don’t try to be a hero. Support! Support is so important to help you heal both physically and emotionally. Allow your loved ones to help and care for you when they offer. Lastly, have faith and pray to the Almighty that he heal you completely, it’s what has kept me sane. It is what I believe is helping me cope with the treatment so far.