Moving mountains

Mother of two, Izelle Pretorius, not only beat cancer but achieved her goal of completing the Ironman 70.3. She now continues to move mountains for other cancer patients.


Izelle Pretorius (40) lives in Nelspruit with her husband, Johan, and their two sons, Ihvan (7) and Stian (3).

Family history

Izelle was 12 years old when her grandfather was diagnosed with cancer. What is cancer she wondered? Her grandfather passed away a year later. In 1999, her aunt was diagnosed with cancer. Ten years later, her aunt passed away. Izelle concluded that cancer is the illness that kills, or so she thought.

Sixth sense

In 2015, Izelle felt a swollen gland in her armpit during her second pregnancy. She knew it was not related to the pregnancy, contrary to medical evidence. After the birth of her son, in March 2015, she went for a mammogram. The results showed nothing to be concerned about. Though, instinctively, Izelle knew something was not right.

Ironically the mother of two was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. She had the illness that kills so she prayed, “Dear God, help me!” Izelle suddenly experienced an indescribable peace. She was not going to battle cancer; she was going to beat it.

Where would you rather be?

Due to the cancer being hostile and had already infected 10 of the 15 lymph nodes, her treatment plan was aggressive. On 28th October 2015, on her 38th birthday, she underwent a left mastectomy. Followed by 10 chemo sessions and 25 radiation sessions. Thereafter, a pre-emptive right mastectomy and hysterectomy followed. It was found that Izelle is a carrier of the BRCA-2 gene, which puts her at an increased risk of cervical cancer.

During one of Izelle’s chemo sessions, she was chatting to another patient, and the topic of what they would rather be doing came up. Izelle said she would rather be training for the Ironman 70.3. “I reckoned if I could beat cancer, I can do the Ironman 70.3,” Izelle explains. When people ask her, “Why not do a 10km road race?” She replies, “I did not beat a cold, I beat cancer!”

Izelle believes that consulting a naturopath, in conjunction with conventional treatment, aided the victory over her cancer. She used natural products to strengthen her immune system and adopted a sugar-free diet.

Ironman 70.3

Six months after Izelle finished treatment, she completed her first Ironman 70.3, in a time of 6 hours, 20 minutes, with her husband by her side. “The training was just as tough as the race, but when I reached that finish line, I was overwhelmed and proud,” she says.

The 40-year-old is currently training for the 2018 Telkom 94.7 Cycle Challenge, which takes place in November.

“After my diagnosis, it seemed like a mountain in front of me. Today I look back and see a small bump. I guess you could say I was assigned the mountain to show others it can be moved!”

Moving mountains

Through Izelle’s own experience, she found that financial support for cancer patients, who don’t have the financial means to undergo treatment, is limited. This is when she decided to open a non-profit organisation, Moving Mountains, to raise funds to provide financial support to cancer patients who are in a debilitating financial situation.

The other services include: providing financial support to qualifying cancer patients to have additional tests, such as blood tests; and providing financial support to qualifying cancer patients for transport costs to attend treatment sessions. Raising awareness and educating patients, and society at large, on healthy living to the prevention of and in the fight against cancer is another objective.

Since opening, Moving Mountains has supported 24-year-old Patricia, a mother of two, who is fighting Stage 4 cervical cancer, and 54-year-old *Sarah, who is fighting brain cancer. *Not her real name.     

For more info, visit www.movingmountians.org.za or visit their Facebook page Moving Mountains For Cancer Patients.

“I guess you could say I was assigned the mountain to show others it can be moved!”

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. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Write to the editor@buddiesforlife.co.za

MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams

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. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. editor@buddiesforlife.co.za


One Reply to “Moving mountains”

  1. I would like to link up with this inspiring woman. I am battling to beat breast cancer, it has mestasised.
    Thanks for the inspiring testimonh

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