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Lydia Staats never knew how important the feeling of belonging was, until the ‘pink angels’ from the Breast Health Foundation (BHF) became a part of her life.
Lydia Staats (45) lives in Springs, Gauteng with her husband and two daughters.
Lydia was diagnosed with Stage 3 oestrogen positive breast cancer last year February. Her treatment consisted of six months of chemotherapy, a mastectomy with lymph node removal, 10 years on tamoxifen as well as three-monthly goserelin injections. She is currently on the waiting list for radiation.
Since Lydia’s diagnosis, the BHF’s patient navigators have been walking side-by-side with her, navigating her through this unknown territory.
When Lydia was diagnosed, she was scared. “My husband had been in a serious accident four months before but thankfully he survived. So, when I heard I had cancer I questioned whether my husband survived so I could die from cancer? In my faith, I know everything happens for a reason, but I didn’t know what this reason was.”
Meeting the pink angels
Despite having her family, friends and church’s support, Lydia still felt alone. “I felt no one really understood what was happening to my body and what I was going through.” But that changed when she met Ouma, a BHF navigator. “Ouma, who became one of my angels, counselled me and told me about her own journey of having breast cancer. I was stunned, because there she was sitting in front of me, and she looked amazing. How can anyone who’s had such a battle look so good. She motivated me to fight. Suddenly I felt I can do this. Ouma gave me her number and said I could WhatsApp or call her anytime.”
The 45-year-old admits she wanted to message Ouma but didn’t want to look needy, so she put on a brave face and went for her first chemotherapy session. “The side effects were awful. I felt like giving up and not going back. Ouma came to my mind again, and my motivation was back.
I decided to keep fighting for my husband, children and dad.”Lydia was then invited to celebrate the BHF’s 20th anniversary. “I had no idea what the BHF was but I was excited. Since starting my treatment I hadn’t been anywhere except chemotherapy. My husband and I were welcomed by Jenna and Louise, my other two pink angels.”
“I learned that all the ladies from BHF had breast cancer, not just Ouma. Immediately I felt this is where I belong, like I was home. I became part of a new family, a family who had gone through what I was going through and I got to share experiences with other patients too. I felt secure, safe and cared for and loved, like we are soul sisters.”
Becoming a Bosom Buddie
Lydia was added to the Bosom Buddies WhatsApp group. “Whenever I asked for advice and other patients weren’t able to help me, my pink angels always had advice, or words of encouragement, and always showed compassion.”
“Whenever I see them, they always welcome and greet me with a hug. I love hugs. I call them my pink angels because angels protect and take care of others. And it’s like they have this beautiful light shining from within them. They all made my journey so much easier and better. My heart is like a puzzle. Every person who is special to me is a piece of that puzzle. All my pink angels are a part of that puzzle now.”
“Being diagnosed with breast cancer and going through chemotherapy was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. It felt like I was in this never-ending dark tunnel, but since the pink angels became a part of my life, I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. A light that shines with kindness, love and compassion.”
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. Write to the email@example.com