{FEATURED} Defeating the Darkness – A Cancer Journey

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This article is in respect of World Cancer Day. There are far too many friends and family surrounding me that are effected by Cancer. It is unfortunate and we cannot take away their pain, we cannot heal them physically, Nevertheless, we can be their pillar of strength, their encouragement, and ensure that they don’t walk this challenging journey alone.

Catarina is a brave and inspirational breast cancer survivor who chose to not only survive cancer, but to fight it earnestly. She is a loving mom to her two children Eva and Rafael. She has a great passion for family and helping others. She finds her inspiration from her children as well as constant communication with other survivors  ~ “You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have.”

 I met Catarina when both of our sons were in hospital in April 2014 with a virus, we just about became permanent room mates and it started to feel like a second home to me. We started chatting at the coffee station in the paediatric ward and she began telling me about her cancer journey. Just when I began losing hope and feeling pessimistic about my circumstances with my Riley in hospital, and feeling as if I had the world on my shoulders, I met this wonderful person, someone who had been through so much and still had a great deal of challenges ahead of her, yet, she had a smile on her face, alive with enthusiasm as she told me about her future, brightness in her eyes and a positive energy so strong it began rubbing off on me. I then realised, I had to be wholeheartedly grateful. In the blink of an eye, your life can change. Life is short, and there will forever be someone who has a tougher journey than you. Gratitude is imperative.
  I am honoured to share Catarina’s story to bring awareness about Cancer, this one in particular, Breast Cancer.

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“My cancer journey began with a sudden urge to help those suffering from the disease when I approached the Sunflower foundation and requested information on becoming a bone marrow donor. I was told to contact the foundation a year later, as I had an operation a few weeks prior (c-section for childbirth). Little did I know I had cancer myself and the journey that I was about to embark on, and how it would affect my life.

After an emergency appendix removal, I was lying in my hospital bed when I discovered a lump in my left breast. As my personality does not allow me to leave any stone unturned, I decided to speed up the process of having my sonar done. My surgeon requested it for 3 weeks post op, and I arranged to have it done the week after my operation, followed by an immediate biopsy a day later. When the professor from the breast clinic called me and told me to come in with my husband, I began to panic. My worst fears were confirmed, and I was diagnosed with a triple negative stage 2 infiltrating ductal carcinoma.

I was given the option of having a lumpectomy (the tumour removed) or having a double mastectomy (removing both breasts) with immediate reconstruction. Given my age and after a lot of research, I decided on the latter. It was not an easy decision to make, especially having a 4 month old son and a 4 year old daughter to care for, but one I felt was the best option for me.

After 8 months of intensive chemotherapy, my breast removal and reconstruction surgery was a great success. All the cancer was removed from my left breast and my right breast did not have any cancer in it. I am on the road to recovery, and will find out in a few days whether I will be doing radiation therapy or not. I have learnt to live each day to the fullest and the future I leave in the Lord’s hands.

There is a common misconception that you should or can only have a mammogram at the age of 40. Wrong. As per the doctors request, I had my first mammogram at the age of 31. Anyone can request to have a sonar done to check for lumps, instead of a mammogram as a first option at the hospital (by going through your Doctor, or by booking a breast screening at a breast health clinic)

To all those affected by cancer and other illnesses, never give up and fight the fight!”

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Thank you Catarina, for sharing your story with us, you are truly an inspiration.

To all the Cancer survivors, to the families who have had to face the darkness of losing their loved ones, and to all the brave warriors going through this tough and challenging journey, This is my Prayer for you;

Your “illness” does not define you. Your strength does. This Cancer cannot shatter HOPE, it cannot dissolve your FAITH or silence your COURAGE. I Pray that you can defeat this darkness. May God give you and your family the comfort and peace you need to get through this. And remember …

He gives his hardest battles to his strongest soldiers.

xoxo

Leigh

To find out how to correctly examine your breasts, click here.

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