Three months after completing treatment, Bagezile Masondo felt a fullness in her breast and experienced vomiting. What she thought was her cancer returning turned out to be a surprise pregnancy.
Bagezile Masondo (42) lives in Roodepoort with her husband, Mpumi, and three children, Kwenzakele (16), Khanya (12) and Philasande (3).
Triple negative breast cancer
Bagezile and her daughter were cleaning the house when, by accident, Khanya bumped her head on her mother’s right breast. “Immediately it swelled up. There was no pain, but I had a nagging feeling to consult a doctor,” Bagezile explains. It was confirmed that the then 37-year-old mother had triple negative breast cancer.
“In May 2016, I started with doxorubicin for the first six cycles, to shrink the tumour before the mastectomy. Just when I thought I was done and prepared myself for the mastectomy, another six cycles of paclitaxel were prescribed to shrink the tumour further. Upon completion of the twelve cycles, in January 2017,
I had a month break then had the mastectomy in March, then in June had 25 sessions of radiation,” Bagezile explains.
Bagezile was informed that chemotherapy could cause infertility. However, since she had always planned to have all her children before the age of 30, which she had, this was of no concern.
“When I started to experience vomiting, pain and a fullness in my breast as well as fatigue, I thought that the cancer was back. To my utter surprise, I was pregnant. Though, it was a relief as that meant the cancer wasn’t back. So, it wasn’t a planned pregnancy,” she says laughing.
“I remember my oncologist’s exact words, ‘Mrs Masondo, I said you can celebrate a bit for completing treatment but you clearly over-celebrated. Congratulations!’”
“My response was, ‘Doctor, this is God confirming that He has healed me and I’m going through with this pregnancy, and he said, ‘Okay, let’s do this.’ He is the kind of doctor that answers all questions, explains everything in detail, and counsels you. He took care of me all the way, before and after delivery. He worked hand in hand with my gynaecologist.”
The pregnant mother experienced a good pregnancy until six months. “I woke up with a swollen face, hands, feet and a headache. I consulted my gynaecologist, only to find out I had preeclampsia (a potentially dangerous pregnancy complication characterised by highblood pressure). A day that started with minor swelling almost ended up with a 1kg baby born and a mother dying.”
On 14 March 2018, Bagezile underwent an emergency C-section and Philasande was born, three months premature, and taken to neonatal while she was taken to high-care as she had developed Hellp syndrome (low platelet count, impaired liver function, kidney problems and protein in the urine). “I had dialysis and nine cycles of plasma exchange and only saw my son a week after his birth.”
Thankfully, both mom and baby recovered well and today the Masondos are a healthy family of five.
Bagezile is a home executive and volunteers at Cancervive (a cancer awareness and education project of People Living with Cancer) and counsels newly diagnosed patients. “Most are referred by people I’ve helped or family members of those I’ve helped. Nothing is as fulfilling as being an anchor to others. No matter how tough the situation is, I don’t let go of them,” she says.
“I was in a dark place during my chemo days. My hair had fallen out, I was sick and very hopeless and wanted to give up. Nobody understood how I felt inside and what I was going through emotionally. I had all the support from my loving husband, family and friends, but they didn’t know the true feelings. The first person I spoke to was from Cancervive. She listened to my fears and understood what I was going through, then she shared her testimony. There’s no way you can stay in the dark after hearing that. There’s just that wow factor about Cancervive. Those bright colours demand attention and instil hope. I knew that’s what I wanted for me, to be well and to give hope to others.”
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. Write to the [email protected]
Image by Khaset Photography