Kgaugelo Moyo shares her story of trusting her gut and going for a third opinion when her intuition told her that the lump in her breast was something to be worried about.
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Kgaugelo Moyo (40) lives in Pretoria North, Gauteng with her husband and two children, aged 16 and 10.
In 2021, Kgaugelo went for a Pap smear; she asked the gynaecologist if he could please check a lump she felt in her breast. “He dismissed it, saying it must be from bumping into something as it’s more on the chest than the breast. So, I left it,” she says.
“Then last year August, it felt like it had grown. I went to a GP to get a referral for a scan. The hospital I was referred to could only do a sonar as they don’t have a mammogram machine. Once again, I was told it’s on the chest so there is nothing to worry about. But, something kept on telling me that something isn’t right,” Kgaugelo explains.
Trusting her gut, Kgaugelo booked her first-ever mammogram at a different hospital. The lump was also a concern of the radiologist, so a biopsy was done. The result confirmed Stage 1 breast cancer. Kgaugelo’s gut instinct was right. “Looking back, I can say that doctors do at times fail us. If that gynae had made extra effort to check what was going on, it could have been picked up earlier. But there was nothing I could do about it, I couldn’t go back and say why didn’t you do anything. I had to now look at the bigger picture of getting treatment,” she says.
Telling the family
“When I first heard the diagnosis, I asked the doctor how long do I have to live? He laughed and explained it was in the early stage, so I would live. I then made an app to see the oncologist, then got in my car and cried. The first person I phoned was an older cousin as I didn’t know how to break the news to my mom or husband. I always share things with her, whether it’s good or bad. We are close, we pray together, and she is extremely supportive. At first, she was shocked, I could hear but then I think she realised I was panicking so she told me all will be fine and to only tell my mother after I had the app with the oncologist, knowing more about the way forward. So, I took that advice.”
Kgaugelo couldn’t wait until she got home to tell her husband, so she phoned him. “His response was ‘How come?’ and I said I don’t know but it is, what it is. When I got home, the kids were at school. I was crying and crying then realised once they get home they were going to ask what’s wrong. My son did ask but I said my eyes were red because I was sleeping. Then a bit later, he asked what we are eating for dinner. I had totally forgot to cook so we ordered takeaway.”
It was only once Kgaugelo started chemotherapy that she told her daughter the news. “Obviously, she broke down, but I assured her that I would be fine once I finished treatment and I was telling her so she knew why I was ill and how she could help. Strange enough, there was a segment on the news about breast cancer that evening so my daughter asked if we could watch it together and learn, which we did. Till this day, my 10-year-old son doesn’t know. We will tell him later but for now he thinks I have a sore back.”
Kgaugelo started chemotherapy (doxorubicin x 4 cycles; 12 x paclitaxel) in September 2022. A lumpectomy was done in May 2023, where one lymph node was also removed as well as a lump next to her nipple (which turned out not to be cancerous). In June, tamoxifen was prescribed for five years and the goserelin injection every three-months for two years. Radiation then started in July for three weeks. “After the first round of red devil,
I experienced nausea and fatigue, but it wasn’t that bad. Then after the second one, my teeth were a lot darker, and under my left arm pit, the skin looked burnt. Then with the different chemo, I felt extreme fatigue, even taking a shower was exhausting. Hence, why I took time off work.”
Thankfully, the bank where Kgaugelo works allowed her to take time off from January 2023 to August 2023 and were very supportive. “I would get messages from colleagues saying they are thinking of me and I must keep pushing on. Their support was great!”
“My mom, who lives in Rustenburg, would come after chemotherapy sessions to assist me for a few days. At first she was devastated but with time she became stronger and supportive. My husband would take me to every treatment session.”
Due to radiation, Kgaugelo had skin changes which were treated and so far the only side effects from tamoxifen are hot flushes.
Mohau Wa Ona
When asked what bravery means to her, Kgaugelo responds, “To accept your situation and face it. Instead of asking why me, look for the positive in the obstacle you’re faced with. Even if it’s cancer. I know many people say there is nothing positive about cancer but for me I believe God wants me to create awareness about breast cancer in certain communities. This is why I have started a foundation, Mohau Wa Ona, which means His gracein Setswana. The focus will be education in rural villages as that is where it’s needed the most.”
“The first launch will take place on 14 October in Mabeskraal, just outside of Rustenburg. I will be sharing my testimony and my younger sister, an oncology nurse, will then discuss signs and symptoms of breast cancer.”
Kgaugelo adds, “Most people in rural villages are poor so we also want to ensure people who are going for treatment have transport to get there and then have food to eat when they come home. There is also the mentality that cancer is only for the white man, or if you do get cancer, it means you’re bewitched so we need to speak the truth and break the cycle. In the future, we will educate on other cancers like prostate and lung.”
“So, I believe breast cancer has made me braver and better as I’m not hiding but sharing my story and wanting to help others.”
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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.
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