In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, two of our previous Super Survivors, Michele Ferreira and Lizel Wheller, catch us up on what’s transpired since sharing their stories.
You can listen to this article below, or by using your favourite podcast player at pod.link/buddiesforlife
Michele Ferreira (50) lives in Linden, Gauteng with her friend, two cats and dog.
Even though Michele will be celebrating her 50th birthday this October, she says that in her mind she is still 30. It will be 12 years since Michele was diagnosed with breast cancer. Looking back, she says she has no anger towards the first doctor who said it was nothing. “The outcome and treatment wouldn’t have been any different had I been diagnosed sooner, so it was part of my journey, but had I not taken responsibility for my health and insisted, I doubt I would be here today,” she says.
When asked about reconstruction, she responds, “Reconstructive surgery was a big part of my healing process. First and foremost, breasts are a big part of our femininity. I felt ‘normal’ again. Although you’ll never close the breast cancer chapter, it was closure of the process as it was the final step for me.”
Career and other changes
Michele left the insurance industry, which she was in for over 25 years, about a year after treatment. “I took time out, travelled overseas with my bestie and then started my own business. I probably work harder than I ever have, but I can work from anywhere and I’mhappy. And isn’t that really the point of life?”
Michele and Jacques got divorced shortly after she left her job. “We just weren’t happy together, but he’s one of my closest friends and he remarried last month.”
Love yourself for the mess that you are
“If I didn’t have breast cancer I’d probably still be ploughing through life the same person I was before. Don’t waste another minute on something that isn’t good for you, be that a relationship, a job, a person. Do what makes you happy and be kind to yourself and others.Love yourself for the mess that you are and be yourself.”
Lizel Wheller (46) lives in Cape Town with her husband and two children.
It’s been 13 years that Lizel has been cancer free and 12 years since she shared her story of naturally falling pregnant shortly after completing treatment. She gave birth to a healthy boy, Ashton, who is 11 years old and two years later, she gave birth to her daughter, Tatum, who is nine years old now.
Once their family unit was complete, Lizel and her husband, Morne, made the choice to get rid of their harvested eggs, which were destroyed.
“We decided to move to Cape Town nine years ago. I have been working for a pharmaceutical company as a medical rep for the last 13 years. My family and I enjoy taking long walks on the beach, hiking and exploring Cape Town,” Lizel says.
The mother of two still goes for annual check-ups and says that being on the cover of Buddies For Life was a great opportunity to bring awareness about the disease.
“I was invited to do a few talks sharing the message that early detection saves lives. The earlier you get diagnosed, the less invasive the treatment and the better chance you have to overcome this disease and win the battle.”
To Lizel, bravery means facing your fears, no matter how scary the outcome may be, and that is how she handled her breast cancer diagnosis, and life in general.
Header image supplied