In Sickness and in Health

For the first time in the 11 years of our marriage, the vow at our wedding, “in sickness and in health” struck me like a sharp sword. I was struggling to accept what the doctor had just said and hid my emotions from her because, as a man, I had to be strong to show  her that everything will be fine.

The story of us

Soso and I started dating back in 1993 and she warned me: “You can kiss me any way you like but don’t touch my boobs.” Once we got to know each other, I asked her about this and she explained that she had undergone a breast operation to remove lumps at the young age of 15 years. The operation had left some scars and she was afraid that I might not like it and leave.

The scars were the least of my concerns and we were blessed with a daughter in 1997. The doctor suggested that Soso didn’t breastfeed as she had discovered new lumps. We got married and had our second child, a boy, in 2005 and again a doctor warned against breastfeeding as the lumps were now growing rapidly larger, although they remained painless. These growing lumps were a huge concern for us. Upon seeking medical attention after one of her mammogram routines an operation was performed in 2006 to remove them.

The yearly routine of ultrasound and mammogram checks became part of our lives and in 2012, after a routine check, the lumps were growing at an alarming rate and become painful. This was brought to the attention of our family doctor and a radiologist. After a re-examination, both agreed they could not be cancerous considering that she was only 37 years old and they presbribed pain medication.

The pain was not getting better and so we asked our doctor for a referral to a breast specialist for a second opinion. We arrived at  Milpark hospital for a biopsy on the 1st August 2012, we got the results. It showed the presence of cancerous cells and treatment had to commence urgently.

Becoming the captain of the ship to healing

We were referred to a Clinical Psychologist to help us understand the processes we’ll be following and also walk us through the medical jargon.

I had to take the leadership role in finding information and also ensuring that I first undestood it before sharing it with my wife and our friends and family.

The Buddies for Life magazine assisted us in disclosing, sharing and educating our children, family, friends, colleagues, church members and neighbours.

Accepting and fulfilling our vow

I was party to at least 15 chemotherapy sessions to provide my support. I am happy to report that Soso has now been in remission for more than a year. I will remain supportive until we conquer this battle and give hope to many who are travelling this route by themselves.

In support of all the grannies, mothers, sisters, daughters, sons, brothers and fathers of our nation who are facing the challenges of Breast Cancer.

Gershon Thamae