3 moms talk about their courageous fight against breast cancer

Posted on Oct 13th, 2016

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Be inspired by these two moms who have conquered cancer, and one who is still fighting to beat it a second time.

3 moms share their stories about their courageous fight against breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women worldwide. Foschini recently launched its Courage to Conquer campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness Month – to encourage women to make a stand together against the disease that is sweeping the globe.

Here, 3 moms share their inspirational stories with you:

Aviwe Mpumlwana, mom to Aphiwe (3), and expecting baby number two

Aviwe

When where you first diagnosed with cancer? How did it make you feel?

I was first diagnosed on 22 May 2015. At first I felt like I was dying and I thought of all the things still wanted to do.  I was diagnosed before my second pregnancy, but at the time I had a two-year-old son.

How did your family react to the news?

My family were amazingly supportive. They knew I would overcome it before I even fought the battle and were always positive. Being from a Christian background, they had faith before I found my own.

This experience has made me…

See life in a different light. As women, we always postpone things or look after everyone but ourselves. With such a scare, you realise that you are the most important person in your life. It has also taught me that through faith, support and strength, anything is possible! Life is short, so stop putting your happiness last.

Any advice for moms and moms-to-be diagnosed with cancer?

Anything is possible! I never thought I’d ever conceive again as I was told the chances of it happening were slim, but here I am now four months pregnant. Have faith and your life can change in an instant.

Watch Aviwe’s interview below:

Mariam Lutta, mom to Bahaa (6) and twins Layth and Hayder (3)

Mariam

When where you diagnosed with cancer and how did this make you feel?

I was diagnosed with ductal breast cancer in August 2014 at the age of 33. In June 2016, after feeling an abnormal pain in my back, and going for scans, it was confirmed that my cancer had returned and spread to the bone.

When the doctor confirmed it, I was dumbstruck – I switched off and didn’t hear a thing he said afterwards. I was so afraid, and everything happened so fast. From the day I was diagnosed, I started my treatment within two weeks.

After meeting with my oncologist and discussing the treatment plan, with my husband by my side, I thought that there’s no point in letting cancer get the best of me. I’m a mom of three beautiful young boys and married to my best friend. Through all of this, they’ve been my motivation. They’re the reason I keep fighting every day and I will continue to fight this disease.

How did your family react to the news?

“Cancer? Really? Mariam? This was not something we expected!” Despite this, my family were so supportive – giving a hand with my kids, attending chemo sessions with me, researching information. The one thing that they were good at was to take my mind off the diagnosis. We had some great laughs.

I know it was difficult for my mom to witness me go through this. No parent wants to see their children suffer, but she stayed so strong for my kids. I thank her close friends and family for the support they gave her during this time.

This experience has made me…

Learn a lot about myself. I always knew I had the ability to deal with a lot, being diagnosed with cancer and beating it the first time, but I now I realise how strong I actually am. I look at things with a different perspective and enjoy life.

Any advice for moms and moms-to-be diagnosed with cancer?

To moms, your life is worth fighting for. Never give up!

To women who are trying to conceive but are diagnosed with cancer, there is the option of harvesting your eggs for later, as chemo can reduce your chances of falling pregnant. My advice would be to focus on getting yourself healthy first. You don’t have to give up on your dreams of having kids, but your path to achieving your dreams may change slightly.

To the families of anyone who is diagnosed – support plays a huge part of getting through this difficult journey. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How are you doing?” Let them know you are there when they need you.

Watch Mariam’s interview below:

Lizelle Knott, mom to Grayson (3 ½)

Lizelle Knott

When where you first diagnosed with cancer? How did it make you feel?

I was diagnosed in January 2014.  My little boy was only 14 months old at the time.  I was so scared that I wouldn’t be around to be his mommy, see him go to school for the first time or play his first sports game.  At the time, my goal was to make it to his second birthday.

How did your family react to the news?

My husband was the one to break the news to me.  I can’t begin to imagine how hard it must have been for him to tell me.  Luckily, he is level-headed, and doesn’t allow emotion to cloud his thoughts.  We both decided there and then that we would do whatever was needed to ensure that I conquered the monster.  Telling my mom was hard, as she’d been through it all before when I was diagnosed with lymphoma at 16.  She was shocked, but had the same mind-set as my husband and me.

This experience has made me… 

Cherish every moment I have with my boys.  We try and do as much as possible together and have fun as a family.

Any advice for moms and moms-to-be diagnosed with cancer?

When diagnosed with cancer the last thing you think of is fertility or having babies. You’re too busy focusing on surviving.  If it wasn’t for my plastic surgeon asking me at my first appointment if we wanted more children, I wouldn’t have thought of it.  But thanks to him, I was put in touch with a fertility specialist. My eggs were harvested and fertilised, and we have three embryos on ice waiting for us.  I’m currently undergoing fertility treatment and hoping we’ll be blessed with a second little Knott in the near future.

Make contact with a fertility specialist before starting treatment in order to determine what options are available.  Don’t stick your head in the sand and hope everything will be OK once you’re done with chemo and radiation, even if it means you have to delay the start of your treatment for a few weeks.  Rather be proactive!  It’s your body, and your life.  You don’t want to have regrets later when you’re in remission.

For those who have had treatment, contact a specialist about conception. There are so many different options available to those wanting to have a baby.  Don’t give up on the dream of having a baby just because cancer decided to invade your life.

I would like to encourage oncologists to discuss fertility issues with their female patients.  I’ve heard of too many cases of women who find out at the end of their treatment that they’re now unable to conceive.  It just adds to an already traumatic experience, and it can be avoided.

Watch Lizelle’s interview below:

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About Xanet Scheepers

Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day.