Meet the Bed Buddies

We hear how five ladies became bed buddies after sharing a room in a high-care ward after their breast operations, and how they had a celebratory lunch two years later, and continue supporting each other.


Layla Jeevanantham, Glenda Cressy, Simone Davies, Fatima Jussub and Lerato Makhavhu met, in 2017, in a room in a high-care ward. They all had one thing in common: breast cancer. 

The five women immediately hit it off and have become good friends, calling themselves Bed Buddies, relying on each other for all manner of things. 

“We are there for each other for our six-monthly check-ups as nobody else (unless you’re a survivor) understands the anxiety associated with that experience. These ladies have really become Buddies For Life and epitomise everything that this magazine is about,” Layla says.

Bed Buddy 1 – Glenda

Glenda Cressy (55) lives in Roodepoort, Gauteng. 

Glenda was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in November 2016. Her chemotherapy comprised six cycles of Taxotere, three weeks apart. Thereafter, a lumpectomy and 30 sessions of radiation followed.

How has your Bed Buddies made a difference in your life?

During chemo, I met Simone. What an inspiration; a young mom with two small children. She always had a happy disposition. We had a lot of laughs and banter in the treatment room. 

I met Lerato and Fatima on the morning of our operations, as we had mammogram check-ups. We exchanged a few nervous words and wished each other luck. I was the last to go in, so didn’t see who was in the ward. 

I woke at 2am to the gentle murmur of voices and laughter. That moment is one I will never forget. They were all sitting in bed, having a cup of tea and laughing. And guess who was in the bed next to me? Simone! We chatted most of the night, all of us, sharing our stories. 

I was not alone. These brave ladies had each ‘walked the walk’ with such dignity and grace. We were then separated into smaller wards. Simone and I were again put together. Oh boy, did we natter! We laughed, compared pain thresholds and points of discomfort. 

We then decided to go on a walk, with our stylish drains, and visit our new friends and so the Bed Buddies group was formed. They’ve always been there, in a WhatsApp way. We have shared symptoms and solved them; radiation woes and sympathised; and side effects and supported. 

Lerato and I bumped into each other at radiation. Simone and I regularly had check-ups together and squeezed in a cup of coffee. 

Getting back to normality hasn’t been easy. I’m not the same person I was before and have felt frustrated at times. My Bed Buddies have continued to be there for me, always supportive. They know…they’ve done it too! Cancer came. 

I fought. I won…but with the love and compassion of many others.

What is different about these friendships?

One can’t do this journey alone. I had God, who blessed me with healing, friends and my wonderful family who were always there for me. 

How are my Bed Buddies different? They have been there, hairless and sick. They have had radiation and understand what that is…can understand the tears and side effects. 

When we met in May this year, two years after our operations, it was wonderful to chat about how cancer has changed us, or not. No judgments. My memory is not what it was, causing me great frustration. My Bed Buddies get it…they forget too…and it’s okay. We admired each other’s hair. We were scared we wouldn’t recognise each other! It was wonderful! 

Bed Buddy 2 – Simone

Simone Davies (42) lives in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

Simone was diagnosed with triple-negative cancer in 2016. Her treatment included chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and radiation.

How has your Bed Buddies made a difference in your life?

Right from the moment of opening my eyes after my surgery, a bond was created between this amazing group of women, from all backgrounds and different circumstances. 

The positivity and fight exuding from all made it impossible to slip into the negative. To see how they have all survived and taken life by the horns post-treatment is an inspiration to me, day in and day out.

What is different about these friendships?

These friendships have been built on extreme trust. Trust in that we are never judged when bearing our true feelings and struggles faced in our long-term recovery. We are there for each other, and will always be there for each other, even if we don’t chat every day. We keep each other strong and have a bond that will never be broken.

Bed Buddy 3 – LERATO

Lerato Makhavhu (40) lives in Noordhang, Gauteng.

On 1st September 2016, Lerato was diagnosed with Stage 3 triple-negative breast cancer. She underwent six cycles of chemo, including platinum chemo, a lumpectomy and radiation.

How has your Bed Buddies made a difference in your life?

A huge difference. I’m glad about the friendships we have built. I could ask them anything, from the ailments I got to what food to eat. They are currently my pillars of strength with the horrible divorce I am facing.

What is different about these friendships?

I can be my authentic self. I don’t have to pretend with these friends.

Bed Buddy 4 – FATIMA

Fatima Jussub (48) lives in Benoni, Gauteng.

Fatima was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer in August 2016. Her treatment included three months of Red devil, three months of Taxol, a year of Herceptin and a double mastectomy.

How has your Bed Buddies made a difference in your life?

They have brought so much information and inspiration to my life. It helps to see how survivors overcame their struggles, and knowing that you not alone.

What is different about these friendships?

We are truly a unique bunch of friends. In hospital, we became close and then became good friends thereafter. We can talk about our experiences as we went through the same thing. They understand where one is coming from and are truly sympathetic. Also, we have fun with each other, which is cool. Truly blessed!

Bed Buddy 5 – LAYLA

Layla Jeevanantham (41) lives in Johannesburg, Gauteng.

Layla was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer on 16 November 2016. She underwent 15 cycles of Taxol chemotherapy, a lumpectomy and 30 radiation sessions.

How has your Bed Buddies made a difference in your life?

We all suffered a similar trauma so completely understand what it means to survive this dreadful disease. 

Initially, life after surviving was even more difficult than I could have imagined. I struggled to find my place at work and socially. I suffered from chemo brain and the paranoia that the disease would return. 

It was comforting to have them share similar experiences and fears, and be pillars of support through the difficult times. 

What is different about these friendships?

These friendships were formed due to a shared traumatic experience. There is something about that foundation that has created bonds that can’t exist if we didn’t go through what we did. We had all been through treatment and were all in fear of our operations. 

Then we all emerged from our operations triumphant and were trying to figure out the next steps. 

Today, we share all the ups and downs of our lives. We cheer each other on when we go for our bi-annual check-ups, and are washed over with relief and celebrate when it’s an all clear. 

I couldn’t do this with someone who hasn’t shared a similar experience to mine and this makes these relationships so unique.

Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. editor@buddiesforlife.co.za

MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams

Laurelle Williams is the Editor at Word for Word Media. She graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She has a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. editor@buddiesforlife.co.za


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