Cancer in South Africa
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and is widely promoted across the globe. Reported as the most common form of the cancer disease among women in South Africa, the prevalence and rate of diagnosis is becoming more and more of a concern. Though it’s not the deadliest of the various types of cancer, the increase in the diagnosis is still extremely alarming. Now, more than ever, women need to be as pro-active as possible. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and ensuring that they undergo the necessary health checks on a regular basis will be a fundamental part of getting the ‘all clear’ from healthcare practitioners and if not the all clear, at the very least ensuring early identification of the disease – worst case scenario.
Famous Cancer Warriors
No one is exempt, as female celebrities and the average girl next door can tell you all about the journey that this disease may have taken them on, at the different stages of their lives. As mentioned before, the early identification of the disease has a lot to do with the turn-around-time from diagnosis until such a time when doctors and specialists (oncologists) can give you a clean bill of health.
Singing sensations, Kylie Minogue, Sheryl Crow and Hollywood actress Christina Applegate have all divided and conquered breast cancer, fighting the disease and surpassing the difficulties that came hand-in-hand with it.
Princess of Pop: Kylie Minogue’s story is one which demonstrates the importance of trusting in that female intuition. Initially misdiagnosed, she was unhappy with the result and felt instinctively that something was wrong. She sought out a second opinion and the elephant in the room revealed itself – a lump was found in her left breast after which she underwent a mastectomy, albeit partial, and a round of chemotherapy and radiation to remove any remaining traces of the cancer.
Country rock star: Sheryl Crow is a classic example which showcases how early identification of the disease minimises the ramifications. With the cancer being identified early enough she was able to skip out on the chemo and was only required to undergo radiation for a period of time.
Accomplished actress: Christina Applegate who quite possibly could be seen as wonder woman as regardless of the the cancer was only picked up in one breast she underwent a double mastectomy. With her mother having to deal with recurring bouts of the disease, she decided that to diminish the proclivity of the return of the cancer to have both breasts removed - diminishing the chances having of the same thing happening to her.
Cancer Warriors closer to home
In her late 60s, the thought of having to deal with battling this disease never crossed her mind and she was completely thrown by the news of her diagnosis.
I asked Mrs Daniels if she would be willing to talk about her breast cancer experience however, she was rather hesitant to open up about it at first. Having lost her son not too long before her diagnosis, the onset of the disease caught her completely off guard as she was still grieving for her son at the time. Now in recovery and on a set amount of medication, the doctors have said that if she takes the medication that she’s on at the moment, she may be completely cancer free in the next 5 – 10 years. Furthermore in this time, she has resolved “to take each day as it comes, I’m getting better” she says and “I’m grateful for every day that I can continue to be a part of this world.”
We think of people like her that are working their way through the unexpected journey that the onset of the disease has taken them on.
Another case where the early identification seems to have diminished the ramifications of the disease is Ms Fozia Williams, mother of three, in her late forties, she was only recently diagnosed. She never saw it coming but took it all in her stride. From what she told me; the turn-around-time from diagnosis to surgery to the recovery treatment which she is now undergoing. She’s been very proactive in getting the required medical attention and in a matter of weeks after diagnosis, was booked for an operation. The 2cm lump was removed successfully however, as a part of her treatment she is now going in for chemotherapy on a weekly basis.
She mentioned that the chemo “can take a lot out of you, but after three days of rest, I’m up and about again”. She seems to be in good spirits and feels lucky to have had the cancer identified this soon.
I also asked her if the onset of the disease had brought about any unexpected costs and whether her life insurance premiums were affected at all by it and she mentioned that they were not. Granted there are some people who are not this lucky and do feel the pinch that comes with the medical bills. A number of insurance providers are aware of the pitfalls of the costs associated with terminal disease and have a number of life insurance cover options which pay out during these times, when great financial distress may be experienced depending on the severity of the disease.
As you can tell, breast cancer is something that women of all ages are being plagued with. The cause of cancer - has yet to be definitively identified. According to CANSA, 90% of cancers are manifested through lifestyle choices, whether its diet, smoking or exercise related. Furthermore, one in four South Africans are affected by cancer, through the diagnosis of a friend or family member or even themselves.
Besides the emotional trauma that is associated with the disease, there may be financial implications as well, especially if you have no medical aid cover or life insurance to speak of. If you know of someone who may be struggling with disease and are worried about the financial implications, let them know about Hippo’s life insurance comparative quotes, which will enable them to source the necessary insurance, relatively easy.
Each of these women have journeyed with the disease and have survived to tell the tale. We salute all women who are dealing with breast cancer at the moment and urge them to remember that all is not lost, there is always hope and impossible is nothing. Continue fighting the good fight.
If you would like to donate to charities for breast cancer or support the cause and engage in volunteer activities, pink drive and reach 4 recovery are good places to start amongst the many excellent charities and sponsorships just waiting for you to reach out to. Do your part to create awareness around Breast Cancer – it’s for a good cause.