Ashleigh Longueira – Pretty in pink but in fight mode

Ashleigh Longueira tells us how getting a port and starting Pilates has been life-changing for her metastatic breast cancer journey.

Ashleigh Longueira (39) lives in Sandton, Gauteng with her husband and daughter.

First diagnosis 

Ashleigh found a lump (the size of a pea) in her breast in August 2015. She consulted her gynaecologist and was sent for a sonar; nothing was found. Due to the lump growing bigger, she kept calling her gynaecologist. He told her it was nothing and that she must come see him in January 2016. By then Ashleigh says it was the size of a R5 coin. Her doctor referred her to a surgeon but Ashleigh decided to get a second opinion. A month later, it was confirmed that she had PR negative HER2 positive ER positive breast cancer.

Treatment consisted of six rounds of doxorubicin, 12 rounds of paclitaxel, 18 rounds of trastuzumab, a lumpectomy and lymph node removal, 30 radiation sessions and goserelin injections every three months for five years. Ashleigh was consistent with her check-ups.

Metastatic breast cancer

Five years later, it was discovered that Ashleigh’s breast cancer had metastasised. “On Boxing Day 2020, I felt terrible, it was like my body couldn’t move. I had been feeling terrible for a few weeks and my local GP said I should go to casualty. They did a full blood test and my liver- and tumour count were high. I then had a CT scan and the doctor said I need to contact my oncologist as it looks like cancer. The next day my oncologist called and booked me in hospital where I had another CT scan and a liver biopsy. I have mets in my liver, bone T5 and C5 and well as lymph nodes,” Ashleigh explains.

Digesting the diagnosis

Ashleigh says she reacted like anyone would. “I cried for many days, wondering why me? My daughter is still so young? As soon as my treatment started, I kicked into fight mode and started believing in myself again, that I can fight this. 

I also accepted it as part of my life now, just like anything else. I have days of wobbles and wonder how I will get through the next treatment, but turning the bad into good has helped. One big important factor that has helped was having a port put in as I hated the nurses searching for a vein at every treatment as that made me very anxious. Once my port was implanted, the anxiety went away.”

Ongoing treatment

“I was started on docetaxel and pertuzumab for six rounds, then pertuzumab and trastuzumab which stopped working after 14 rounds. Then I moved to capecitabine which after three rounds, there was no improvement. I have now started ado-trastuzumab emtansine and have had three rounds of that. For my bone cancer, I’m on zoledronic acid which I have done six rounds.”

Telling her daughter

When asked if her daughter knows she has cancer, the mother responds, “My daughter has always been updated on my situation with my cancer. I never want her to feel we hide things from her. She was very young (1 and a half ) when I first had cancer but we always spoke about it openly. When I was told it has returned, my husband and I went home and told her right away. Hiding the information from her makes her more upset as she clearly sees me every day so she knows when I’m not doing well.”

Support structure

Thankfully, the 39-year-old says they are coping well as a family. “I have a support structure. My husband knows and sees when I’m down. My daughter is always checking in on me after treatment. Luckily, my parents live close by and help wherever needed. Plus, I’ve been blessed by  close friends and the mothers at my daughter’s school. They would deliver meals after each chemo appointment so my husband could deal with me and not worry about meals.”


Due to Ashleigh’s sclerosis (diagnosed in 2021 and caused by the goserelin injections) and cancer in her bones, she needed to find a form of moving which has as little impact on her bones. After seeing her physio on a weekly basis to release the tension, she chatted to her doctor and asked about Pilates; he said it would be good to get the whole body moving. 

“I started Pilates and it was life-changing. After treatment I would spend two days in bed which makes the body really sore. Pilates helps to stretch and is low-impact and as I work one-on-one with my trainer, she customises my programme each session depending on what is sore and where it hurts. I highly recommend it. 

I also take vit D as well as curcumin with Slow-Mag and CrampEase which has magnesium in and helps in maintaining healthy bones.”

To follow Ashleigh’s journey on Facebook, click here