Breast cancer gave me a second chance

“Everyone has experienced a moment that changed your life. Mine was at the beginning of 2014 when I found out I had breast cancer,” said the bubbly Lizette Gouws (41), maintenance manager at Riviera Hire cc.

Though not an easy time, she admits she knew all along. “A few years ago I’ve discovered a lump in my breast, which brought on a mixture of surprise and dread. I went to my doctor, who did the necessary tests – at the time I was too young for a mammogram. Results indicated it was nothing serious, thus my physician placed me on Nordette hormone therapy. When I barely turned 40, the bump on my right breast resurfaced.”

Lizette had her first-ever mammogram. A subsequent biopsy revealed stage 2 breast cancer. “Suddenly I was facing an uncertain future and my life plans and goals have been interrupted. I knew nothing and had big decisions,” she said.

Lizette started her treatment with radiation therapy. In February 2015, she underwent eight rounds of chemotherapy followed by a bilateral mastectomy in August of last year.

This courageous single mother of a beautiful 12-year-old daughter braved her chemo sessions unaccompanied. “I would usually go for chemo on Monday mornings then go to work from there – not because my employer forced me, simply because it was my way of dealing with things – staying busy was key. My daughter and Carol, my older sister, were always there when I got home. I was very fortunate during chemo. Despite the Red Devil, I never experienced that overwhelming tiredness and nausea. I was really sick only once.”

The challenges Lizette is still facing now after treatments have ended are pins and needles in her hands and feet, and her taste has been affected, “some chocolates just don’t taste like they used to,” she said.

As tough as her cancer diagnosis has been — the emotional ups and downs, the physical losses and pain — Lizette feels she has been given the gift of a second chance and gained an extraordinary understanding of what that means.

I truly am grateful for every day and all the people around me… It would be a lie to say that I am never without fear, but I’m more at peace, because of the gratitude of life.
Lizette’s tips for diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer:
  • Know your breasts.
  • Do your monthly breast examination – if there are any changes, immediately contact your doctor.
  • Take responsibility for your health and trust your instincts.

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Written by Elsje Smit.

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