Where are they now?

We catch up with four of our Super Survivors to see where they are now after having breast cancer.

Then and Now Victoria Pansegrouw

Victoria (41) lives in North West London, UK with her 14-year-old Yorkie fur baby, Bacio, that she brought over from SA when she immigrated in 2013.

Victoria was our first Super Survivor to grace the cover of Buddies For Life in 2011. It was her breast cancer journey that inspired the concept of the magazine. 

Even though she misses the blue skies of beautiful South Africa, she feels privileged to have more easily been able to travel to different countries like Spain, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Holland and Sardinia.

“When thinking of my breast cancer journey, it’s still a bizarre and strange time in my life. I was only 27 when I was diagnosed and running around loving life, so it was a major shock. I remember feeling like I really needed to keep going and have as much fun as I was capable of in between treatments. It was a major learning curve but the good thing is I’m now over my needle phobia.”

Then and Now Johan Basson

Johan Basson (73) lives in Benoni, Gauteng with his wife, Beverley.

Johan was the first male breast cancer survivor to be featured on the cover of Buddies For Life in 2016. He has been blessed with a full recovery, and lives a good life. 

“I still run my electrical engineering and manufacturing company and have a huge amount of fun doing it. My wife and I travel quite a lot; we are off to Norway over December to go see the Northern Lights, and spend time in Europe. 

We love the outdoors, and go camping often, and I’m a keen motorcyclist doing a lot of adventure riding and touring.”

Thankfully Johan no longer suffers with lymphoedema and though he still has stresses of life and business, he has become more relaxed about life. Every two years, he goes for a sonar as a check-up and he believes that there is much more awareness about men getting breast cancer nowadays. 

“I’ve spoken to many people about my own journey, and met and heard of other men as well who got breast cancer.If there is one thing I would encourage any cancer survivor, or even any normal healthy person to do, it would be to always remain positive in life and in attitude towards people.In my case, positivity was a significant factor in my recovery.”

Julia Ngwane (33) lives in Midrand, Gauteng with her husband and two children.

Julia was one of the first survivors to be featured On The Chemo Couch in 2014. Her later years of life reads like a fairy tale; she married her boyfriend who stood by her through breast cancer and even though she froze her eggs, they were able to conceive naturally. Her second child was born in April this year. 

Career wise, she moved into corporate and now uses her legal skills in the industrial relations space. 

“I remember how horrible the after effects of chemo were and just how hopeful I was that I would get to my now reality. I always operated on a faith-it-till-you-make-it philosophy,” she says.

Pumla Ngamlana (53) lives in Mulbarton, Gauteng.

Pumla was the Super Survivor who was bold enough to be covered in body paint for her cover shoot in 2018. She is grateful to God for reaching five years in remission. Unfortunately, she still experiences pain every now and then but says it’s not so severe. Though it does become more excruciating during the change of season or cold winter days. 

Sadly, she lost her partner shortly after her story was featured. “That was just another darkest side of my life. To lose the person who was so supportive during my worst ordeal was just a blow. I have since recovered emotionally.”

Due to COVID, Pumla lost her job but says, “God has been faithful and continues to provide for me and my family. I’m considering a few options in terms of entrepreneurship, currently I sell pre-loved clothing and distribute alkaline water as my source of income.”  

When recalling her choice of treatment, she says, “I’m glad that I was brave enough to take the tough decisions and not delay the process of healing. It wasn’t easy at all, but the faith I had in God and support from my family and friends made it easy to choose the treatment to take.”

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 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. Write to [email protected]