We chat to the lively Dorothy Lewis about her life choices and three decades of survivorship.
Dorothy Lewis (76), a widow, lives in Joubert Park, Gauteng with her 17-year-old granddaughter. She has two sons and three grandchildren.
Previously, Dorothy had two benign lumps that were surgically removed. So, when she felt another lump, off she went to the doctor expecting it to be removed, in half a day, with no hassle. However, the process was not as brief – a biopsy was done with her spending the whole day at the hospital. She was told to come back on such and such a day. She assumed she was coming back so the lump could be removed, just as before.
Emotions got the better of Dorothy
The then 45-year-old mother returned to the hospital and the news was broken to her – it was not a benign lump; it was cancer. “I was shocked! To be honest (back then) I thought cancer was for whites. Straightaway I thought in the next week I would be dead. The doctor told me I could go home to think about my options…I wanted to hit the doctor. The nurse gave a calming tablet and the next day I had to apologise to the doctor for my behaviour.” Strange enough, the doctor told Dorothy she was happy at how she had reacted.
A positive life decision was made after Dorothy’s diagnosis; she stopped smoking. This was another health milestone for her as just a few years before her diagnosis, she attained the title of recovered alcoholic.
A right mastectomy was performed, then two months of radiation, followed by 12 sessions of chemotherapy. Since the surgery, Dorothy has used a breast prosthesis, changing it once it loses its shape. Though, she adds she learnt how to care for them, which extends their lifespan.
After breast cancer, walking became a new hobby for Dorothy; for 11 years, she was part of Run/Walk For Life. She walked three times a week and found that it was a great stress reliever. Unfortunately, she had to stop as she suffers with arthritis, causing her knees to give in.
Two knee replacements
In 2014 and 2017, the grandmother had both knees replaced respectively and her walking has thoroughly improved. Currently, she attends physio once a week at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital (CMJAH). For her own personal exercise, she attends classes at the Parkhurst Recreational Centre.
At that time, Dorothy attended a support group in Braamfontein, called I Can Cope, where she met Jonathan Paton. She then moved to the Reach For Recovery (RFR) support group.
In 1994, when Dorothy retired from her secretarial job, she became a RFR volunteer, visiting patients at CMJAH. Presently, Dorothy still volunters and attends the RFR Joburg meetings.
The chosen way of life
The 76-year-old attributes her long life to her being careful with what she eats; fruits and vegetables are a must every day. She also doesn’t allow small things to worry her.
She adds that her days are full of activity; either doing her own things or riding her granddaughter around. Then lastly, being a Jehovah Witness helps her a great deal in handling the trials of life.
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. [email protected]