You can be a Super Hero

On Women’s Day I was changing trains at the Sandton Gautrain. A well-dressed, middle-aged, professional-looking and confident lady started talking to me as we both waited for our connecting trains to take us to our destinations. She claimed she was curious as to why I wore a pink ribbon on my lapel. Then the real story came out!

She told me how she had been diagnosed with breast cancer in her right breast eight years before. Following the removal of her right breast and armpit glands (of which seven out of 11 were positive) she was also told that she had hormone receptor negative breast cancer – and this was not considered a positive prognostic feature.

I watched her face and body language as I listened to her story. I noticed that her face did not change, she maintained her positive manner and smile thoughout. She continued to tell me about her fears, tears, loss of identity and loss of femininity, pain, embarrassment and her loneliness and depression associated with the diagnosis and treatment. At this point her face started to change a bit, but I could still sense the strength and courage in her voice as she continued with the conversation. Two years ago she was told that that she had lung metastasis, which responded remarkably well to chemotherapy.

One day, following the lung diagnosis, she was gazing at her wonderful daughter, silently praying that her cancer would not be inherited by the rest of her family. It was her “Eureka” moment. She made the decision to change her life and especially her attitude about her diagnosis. She wanted to start something meaningful as a way of thanking God for keeping her alive for so long. She decided that every August 9 (Women’s Day) and on her birthday, she would collect the names of 10 women and book a mammogram, doctors breast examination, pap smear, HIV test, weight and height, blood-sugar and blood-pressure test for them.

She is a Super Hero!! Since her diagnosis she has saved 40 women from breast cancer by educating them on early breast cancer screening and detection.

My question to you today is: What have you done? Education, screening, early detection and treatment saves lives. Why don’t you do something to help your sisters this birthday or next Women’s Day and become a Super Hero?

Write to us and tell us how your pink ribbon, your Women’s Day or your birthday has become a lifesaving day!

Written by Dr Thandeka Mazibuko