Carol Ann Feher details how a recurrence caught her off guard after being in remission for 18 years.
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Carol Ann Feher (50) lives in Germiston, Gauteng with her husband. Between the two ofthem, they have five children and nine grandchildren.
At age 31, I was diagnosed in January 2004 with an aggressive Stage 3 breast cancer. My kids were still young, eight and seven, and my partner and I were planning our wedding for November. I underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy for six months and radiation six weeks every day. With my doctor’s consent, I also had two vitamin C drips twice a week and ozone therapy. After the first chemo session my hair started to fall out. I didn’t want to put myself through more trauma and asked my children and future husband to help me shave it off. I must admit I looked cool with short hair. Time went on, I healed well and was instructed to stick to the check-ups, which I did.
In 2017, I lost my job and unfortunately haven’t been able to find one since then. In 2019, I lost my mom to pancreatic cancer. It was extremely hard for me to see her suffer as she had so much to deal with being wheelchair-bound for 46 years of her life. I then got COVID and then my dad passed away in 2022. In September 2022, I had a mammogram, ultrasound and bone density test booked but we were then informed that our medical aid had been placed under liquidation. Our broker had to scramble to get us onto a new medical aid. Thankfully he did; there was a three-month waiting period, but thankfully breast cancer fell under prescribed minimum benefits (PMB) so I could still go for my appointment.
I was informed there was a black spot on my left breast (same one that was operated on 18 years ago). A biopsy confirmed it was the same cancer. How could this come back? I was cancer free for 18 years! The good news, though, was that the cancer hadn’t spread anywhere else according to the MRI scan.
Regarding the new medical aid and the PMB covering my check-up and then all the scans, I find this absolutely amazing how God already had these plans in action because if I didn’t have the PMB, my recurrence wouldn’t have been picked up. Honestly, I believe all the stress due to my parents’ deaths and other life challenges had some doing in the recurrence.
Obviously, I cried when I heard the news but when I had gotten it all out and dealt with the emotions, I knew I had to pull myself towards myself. There is still so much for me to look forward to. I choose to fight and keep on fighting even on the hard and emotional days.
The second treatment plan was a full mastectomy with a tissue expander inserted. In July this year, the expander was removed and the prosthesis inserted. Another surgery is needed for symmetry of both breasts, and the nipple. I went to see an oncologist and he requested a CT scan. Thankfully, no chemotherapy was needed. Though, I have been put on the goserelin injection and letrozole tablets for five years, and a specialised drug, abemaciclib, for a minimum of two years. Unfortunately, my medical aid plan doesn’t cover this drug which costs around R20 000 a month. I don’t have the means to pay for this. My husband is a pensioner and the odd jobs that he get covers our daily living and medical aid.
I believe with my faith and so many people praying for and with me, all things are possible. God will make a way where there seems to be no way.
Loving Zumba and feeling great
I started Zumba classes this year February at Z Dance Fitness S.A, with Antoinette van Staden, who is also the photographer for Buddies For Life, and I absolutely love it. Since starting, I feel so much more energised, have lost some extra kilos, and look forward to my sessions twice a week. I feel absolutely great.
This article is brought to you by Five Roses in the interest of education, awareness and support. The content and opinions expressed are entirely the patient’s own work and not influenced by Five Roses in any way.
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