Zandile Mbatha tells us how she is living fearlessly after breast cancer and how Buddies For Life inspired her to share her story.
You can listen to this article below, or by using your favourite podcast player at pod.link/buddiesforlife
Zandile Mbatha (33) lives in Fourways, Gauteng. She has a four-year-old son.
Breastfeeding and blood stains
In 2021, I was weaning my son off the breast. My left breast became hard and I assumed it was from breastfeeding. Though, the right breast was back to its normal size.
Being a working mom with a tight schedule of gym, church, fetching my son from school, having to cook and bonding with him before bed, days past without me taking much notice of the changes in my breast. Then consistent stains appeared on my bra every day and I finally went to a doctor in 2022.
After a mammogram I was referred to a breast surgeon; more tests were done which confirmed I had Stage 3 HER2-positive breast cancer. I never thought I’d have cancer but there is a family history; my dad’s twin sister passed away from cancer and so did my mom’s sister.
I started with red devil. Though, I call it the blood of Jesus because it’s red, and we are saved and healed by the blood of Jesus. The lump shrunk rapidly and a less aggressive chemotherapy was started and trastuzumab injections. The lumpectomy took place in March 2023. I’m waiting to start radiation.
I consulted with a fertility specialist and was given the option of freezing my eggs before I started treatment. I opted not to do it, if it’s God’s will for me to have kids again, it shall be. However, preventative measures (Mirena) were taken so I don’t fall pregnant in the process.
Youngest in oncology rooms
Most patients were elderly in the oncology rooms, I was the youngest. Almost everyone felt sorry for me being diagnosed at my age (32), some said it, while others would stare but I knew what they’re thinking. It was almost like they felt it was okay for them to be there but not me. But, I knew there was a greater purpose.
I’m a bubbly person, shy at first but always smiling and laughing. I love people and try to remain positive at all times. The most common thing other patients would say was that I light up the chemotherapy room. Once I was very sick and a nurse said “Today you’re not yourself, I can see.” That touched me.
Accepting body changes
Having a breast that is completely different to the other has bruised my self-esteem. I’m afraid of dating because I would have to explain. And, at this point I can’t afford reconstruction. I love and appreciate my body but more than anything this has been the hardest aftermath to deal with. Thankfully, I’m slowly getting used to the changes and learning to accept them, so that I can go out to the world fearlessly, without shame.
I surrounded myself with people I love and who made me happy, that helped me recover. I prayed and meditated on God’s Word to give me strength. I regret not being as supportive to my cousins when my aunt was sick with cancer. I had a lack of knowledge of what cancer really is, what the treatment does, and how it affects those around them. Now I realise how difficult it Is to ask for help during this time. You come to a point, thinking they know I’m sick, so whoever wants to support is welcome.
Unfortunately, I’m dealing with hefty medical bills as my medical aid only paid partially for my treatments and surgery. This is emotionally draining as I’m financially strained and trying to make ends meet. But I believe God will see me through this too.
Since cancer I see more opportunities, and rather look for solutions than at problems. I’m embracing every moment, understanding the quality and value of time and how I spend it. I live fearlessly and only fear God. I walk away from anything negative and I’m working on being more supportive to others.
Reading Buddies For Life
I first came across Buddies For Life at my surgeon’s rooms. The second time was at the hospital where I’m scheduled for radiation. That day I read it from cover to cover. By reading other people’s stories, I learnt things I never knew, got comfort and encouragement, and my knowledge was expanded. I strongly believe each story always reaches the destination of the one it’s meant to reach and impact. This is why I’m not afraid to share my story because I never know who I might be helping.
MEET THE 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.
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