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As a person living alone, Kat McClure knew she couldn’t face breast cancer surgery and recovery on her own so she rounded up her best team who she knew would support her.
Kat McClure (60) lives in Johannesburg, Gauteng. She is single and the proud mom of two adult daughters, and granny to six grandchildren.
I was diagnosed in 2019 with luminal A breast cancer, which was detected early, for which I will be eternally grateful. My treatment consisted of a double mastectomy with Goldilocks reconstruction. Being divorced for over 20 years, and a single mom I had always ensured that we were on a good medical aid and did my medical checks religiously as I wanted to be strong and healthy. I went along for my standard mammogram screening when the reality hit that something was not right and that it needed further investigation. On the way home, I called my oldest daughter to ask if she could come with me to the next appointment which was a biopsy. From that day on she never missed any appointment, right up to the surgery and after.
The need to explain to my daughters that their lives would no longer be regular as far as cancer and mammograms were concerned was difficult. I have three sisters who also needed to be informed. There is no cancer in my family.
Needed to be in my own home
As the surgery grew nearer, I knew that I needed to be in my own home to get over the surgery and privately deal with everything that had happened. My daughter insisted that I stay with her and her family. My other daughter was desperate to come from Australia to be with me; she had a toddler which would be difficult. I said to them both, thank you for wanting to be there for me, but no. The last thing I wanted was for them to deal with the reality of such major surgery on their mother. I had seen a psychologist before the surgery whom I am so grateful to as she said to me you can’t be alone after surgery, you will need help with everything.
Women helping women
I have been so blessed to be part of a group of women who have been friends for many, many years; one of which, I have been close friends with since we were 17 years old. I asked her if she could stay with me and help me for the three weeks after the surgery, which she did. She knows me better than anyone else and she was an absolute godsend. There is something about women helping women that is extremely beautiful, the bond of understanding each other is precious.
I would never have been ableto cope alone. On the physical side: bathing, hair washing, managing the drains and meds to be taken, let alone the aspect of meals and coffees. The emotional side is as daunting, as it can hit you at any time that you will never be the same woman you were.
My advice to other breast cancer patients who have to face treatment as a single person or living alone is to think about what you will need to get through cancer, who you know will be the best team to stand by you, to speak or listen when you can’t.
Part of the Breast Health Foundation team
This February, I am four years post cancer and I am strong and healthy. The experience has changed my outlook on life and now I work for the Breast Health Foundation. I am truly grateful I get to make a difference to women going through breast cancer.