Penny Naidoo was diagnosed with Paget’s disease of the nipple, a form of breast cancer. She tells us more about this journey and how she believes red devil saved her life.
You can listen to this article below, or by using your favourite podcast player at pod.link/buddiesforlife
Penny Naidoo (61) lives in Essenwood, KwaZulu-Natal. She has two adult sons and four grandchildren.
Every year I religiously do a mammogram. In 2016, I noticed a sore on my nipple and thought it was caused by lotion or washing powder which I changed a few times. When that didn’t help, I used Vicks and a topical cream; it disappeared but then came back.
Since I’m a medical sales consultant, I knew this was strange and saw a specialist surgeon who immediately sent me for a mammogram; he also did a few biopsies. The results
came back positive for breast cancer presenting as Paget’s disease of the nipple. He explained that Paget’s disease of the nipple is a rare condition of breast cancer.
That day is one I’ll never forget; I felt as if the floor opened and swallowed me up, or like I was drowning and was going to die. However, the compassion from my medical and nursing team was absolutely amazing which helped.
The surgeon told me I needed an immediate mastectomy to remove the right breast (2 x 2,5cm lumps were detected). I begged to delay the operation as I was going on my first sales conference. Thankfully, the surgeon agreed.
As soon as I got back, I was admitted. The mastecomy was done, and an inflator was inserted. To be frank, I was happy to reduce the size of my breast because I was an E cup.
Two weeks later the wound got infected and I underwent another operation to clean it. Two weeks later I had to have another operation as I was allergic to the silicone. I have such a sensitive system, I’m allergic to a quite a few plasters, dressings and oitments.
In 45 days, I had three surgeries; I then chose not to undergo any futher reconstructive surgery.
Chemotherapy started as soon as I recovered and the wound healed.I had 39 sessions; some of which was red devil. However, that litte yet potent red devil is a lifesaver as I personally think it saved my live.
The chemotherapy experience is something that I wouldn’t wish for anyone. I had my bad days then would bounce back to a few good days and carried on working. I would call on my customers with my bald head and I rocked the look.
Thankfully, I had the most amazing support system with friends and family who cooked for me and took time to come to my doctors’ appointments with me as I found them to be overwhelming; I would switch off the minute I entered any doctor’s room.
After chemotherapy was completed, I had my left breast removed as I was unstable withone heavy breast and it looked lopsided when I got dressed.
I used to have check-ups every three months as my cancer markers were always fluctuating but from July last year, I go every six months.
B, C OR D CUP
Looking back on this journey, I thank God for helping me through it. It changed me asa person with some of my values changing. I think about things differently, have new priorities, and most of all I’m living life.
I’m very confident even though I’m flat-chested with no nipples but as I always say I can choose to be a B, C or D cup when I get dressed in the morning; it all depends on what I wear and my mood. I use sponges in my bra as I don’t like the feel of the prostheses. Looking at the bright side is that I wasn’t comfortable with my natural E cup and now I’m comfortable.
I share my story at various cancer functions and reach out to other people facing cancer and encourage them. Everyone needs to know that having cancer isn’t a death sentence and with hope and prayer there is always light at the end.
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. [email protected]
Header image supplied