Pieter Beck – I am resilient

Despite having jarring complications from male breast cancer treatment, Pieter Beck shows his true colours of being resilient.


Pieter Beck (45) lives in Berea, KwaZulu-Natal. He is currently separated from his husband.

Liposarcoma of pectoral muscles

Pieter was diagnosed with liposarcoma of the male pectoral muscles in July 2017. He says it started as a small recurrent lipoma (overgrowth of fat cells), though after a biopsy and CT scan, it was confirmed to be liposarcoma. 

The male scrub nurse underwent a bilateral mastectomy (the tumour was above his chest bone and had spread to both sides of the pectoral muscles), and immediate reconstruction with silicone implants.

Pieter then underwent combined chemotherapy and radiation. His chemotherapy regime included bleomycin and ‘red devil’. Though due to his blood count being low, only eight sessions of bleomycin were completed and one ‘red devil’. Forty-two sessions of radiation were completed. 

Complications

Unfortunately, Pieter suffered several complications after surgery. His body rejected the silicone implants and he was very ill. It was then decided after three weeks to remove the implants. 

Seromas (collection of fluid build-up under the surface of skin) also formed and he had drains in for several months. Due to the seromas not clearing, the surgeon injected the seromas with bleomycin. Peter explains that it acts like a glue in the body. It took about eight months for the seromas to disappear.

Pieter then also developed radionecrosis of the chest, a condition that occurs when radiation exposure kills the soft tissues and can’t regenerate normally. He underwent post-ops and saw a wound nurse every three days. But, in the end, he had to undergo a skin graft to help the hole close which also took around eight months.

Despite all of this, Pieter says, “In the end, it all comes down to accepting yourself after surgery, treatment and reconstruction. If you are not going to love yourself, nobody is going to.”

Fear of the known

When asked if working in the healthcare industry prepared him for such a diagnosis, he responds, “No, it didn’t. I think when it happens to you (or your family), the knowledge you have disappears with fear and anxiety. But, then at the same time because I knew what was on the map for me, I also experienced fear of the known,” Pieter explains. “But, today I stand strong thanks to the love and support of family and friends.” 

#IamResilient award

Last year, the 45-year-old male breast cancer survivor was a nominee for the #IamResilient awards, held by Tash Reddy, founder of I am. Pieter says, “I was one of the 12 nominees from KwaZulu-Natal. It was an amazing day where I got to spend time with other cancer survivors. The motivation and the support was amazing.”

Pieter has been in remission for over a year now and says he is doing well. “There are some days I can’t look at myself in the mirror but then I think of how far I have come and remember to love myself.”

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

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


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