Live, Laugh and Love with CANSA SPAR Virtual Tea

Live, Laugh and Love with CANSA SPAR Virtual Tea

6 October 2021 – As part of special celebrations for its 90th Anniversary, CANSA is hosting four CANSA SPAR Tea Cuppa For CANSA, events in Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Durban, and Paarl on 30 of October 2021 in a virtual format. The events aim to bring awareness to CANSA’s on-going fight against cancer as well as raise funds towards their care and support programmes for those affected by cancer.

Maria Scholtz, Head of Sustainability at CANSA says, “Despite COVID-19’s continued impact, the annual CANSA tea remains one of the highlights on our calendar. In collaboration with event partner, SPAR, it promises to continue the excitement, with a competition, prizes, goody bags and a special livestreamed broadcast with entertainment. What is special, is that anyone, no matter where you live, can take part by hosting an event in the comfort of your home or venue of choice.”

The theme for this year is ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ and even though the events take place virtually, they will still follow the original approach that they have done in previous years.

Scholtz explains, “Table settings will be judged on Friday, 29 October by way of uploading photos to our designated platforms. Your tea (on the 30th) can be hosted from 9 to 1 pm, during which a virtual celebratory CANSA 90th anniversary live broadcast, will be shared with you and your guests via a special link. Other sponsors, donors and celebrities will then join us for the announcement of the 2021 CANSA SPAR Tea winners.”

Five Roses tea is once again the official tea partner for the event and a limited edition, 2021 Cuppa For CANSA mug was designed by Jenna Clifford, especially for CANSA’s 90th anniversary. Mugs can be purchased from CANSA Care Centres across South Africa. And CANSA welcomes media partner, Maroela Media for the first time for the campaign who celebrate its 10th anniversary.

“CANSA is committed to connecting people facing cancer with information, day-to-day help as well as emotional support they need in the communities where they live,” adds Scholtz.

Funds raised through the support of campaigns such as Cuppa For CANSA, ensures that CANSA can continue offering service and holistic care and support to those affected by cancer.

Scholtz concludes, “Our aim is to ensure that cancer survivors and their loved ones don’t have to face cancer alone; we’re here to support them through every step of their cancer journey.”

Contact Anita Snyders on for more details or to host an event. A reminder for hostesses, hosts and guests to comply with all health and safety regulations as per COVID-19.

(For more information, please contact Maria Scholtz, Head: Sustainability at CANSA at email Call 013 741 5441 or mobile 083 280 0725.)


Cuppa Competition: Celebrate Life – Your Story is Worth more than Gold

Cuppa Competition: Celebrate Life – Your Story is Worth more than Gold

This competition opens 1 July 2020 and closes 10 November 2020. Read full terms & conditions…

Your support helps fund our Care and Support programmes provided by our CANSA Care Centres.

Share your ‘Celebration of Life’ Cuppa Story with us by hosting an intimate Cuppa with your family groups, friends or colleagues at work. And of course, please observe all lockdown procedures to be safe such as wearing a mask (CANSA sells facemasks and headwear) and applying hand sanitiser frequently.

Follow the 3 easy steps and stand the chance to win fabulous prizes:

  • Step 1: Make your payment on Quicket and fill in the Cuppa Competition Form online at the link supplied after payment
  • Step 2: Host your Cuppa
  • Step 3: Submit your photos

You may enter more than one category – R100 per category entry:

Category 1: Entry Fee R100

Celebrate life – my Cuppa Theme Interpretation

  • ‘Celebrate life’ by showcasing your story.
  • Register on-line and submit 3 good quality photos of your CUPPA set-up. Your Cuppa photos will showcase your interpretation of this year’s Cuppa theme.

Category 2: Entry Fee R100

Celebrate life – my Cuppa healthy option menu

  • Food has its own story – sometimes it is a family favourite – remember to showcase your healthy options.
  • Register on-line and submit 3 good quality photos of your Cuppa menu selection. Your Cuppa photos will reveal your culinary / baking skills.

Category 3: Entry Fee R100

Celebrate life – my Cuppa table setting

  • ‘Celebrate Life’ by showcasing your overall creativity – it is time to air-out the white linen tablecloth and wash the porcelain cups.
  • Register on-line and submit 3 good quality photos of your Cuppa table setting. Your Cuppa photos will capture your decorative flair.

Category 4: Entry Fee R100

Celebrate life – my Cuppa dress-style

  • ‘Celebrate Life’ by dressing up! Your dress-style will tell the story…
  • Register on-line and submit 3 good quality photos of your CUPPA dress up.  Your Cuppa photos will be a fashion statement.

Category 5: Entry Fee R100

Celebrate life – my Cuppa, my story

  • ‘Celebrate Life’ by sharing your story – we are all touched by cancer in one way or another – share your story by sending us a short video clip, or writing you story…
  • Register on-line and submit your video or story – your story will create HOPE!

“A cup of tea shared with a friend is happiness tasted and time well spent!” – Anonymous

Having a cup of tea with a friend is one of the ‘every day things’ we miss most during the COVID-19 lockdown … because where there is a cup of tea shared, there is HOPE!

“When you are feeling sad and blue and have no clue what to do, sit down and have a cup of tea.” Anonymous

For more information contact Maria Scholtz:

Hannon shares some great lifestyle tips while promoting our competition…


Prizes include gift vouchers to the value of R1000 by Gary Rom Hairdressing; gift vouchers to the value of R1000 by Future Skin & Body Clinic; gift hampers by Carrol Boyes; gift hampers by red espresso; gift hampers by National Brands; gift hampers by Annique Theron; gift hampers by Rexel; set of glasses by Fanél Glass; prizes by Gem Appliances, recipe books by lifestyle chef, Izelle Hoffman (sponsored by Penguin Rand House South Africa and Struik) and gift hamper by Hannon.

Lock Your Hug in a Cuppa

Lock Your Hug in a Cuppa

Has lockdown got you down? No hugging bugging you out? Is isolation causing frustration?

Then it’s time for a Cuppa – a VIRTUAL Cuppa For CANSA!

Lock your hug in a cuppa by joining our Virtual Cuppa For CANSA 1-minute challenge and help us raise funds to deliver much needed care and support services to those affected by cancer.

All you need to do is:

1) Using a cuppa, make your favourite healthy sweet treat or savoury snack
2) While it’s cooking, create a short video of you doing some type of physical activity while you wait.
3) Send your HUG (i.e. challenge) to your family and friends
4) Pledge your donation to CANSA
5) Upload your video to Facebook using the hashtag #VirtualCuppaForCANSA
6) Have FUN and be creative


  • Keep recipes quick and easy
  • Use ingredients which will be available during lockdown and most likely already at home
  • Try using recipes which are low in sugar and include fresh fruits and veggies
  • Keep the video to 1 minute
  • Please remember to include your pledge to CANSA and add the donation link to your post:

Videos will be shared on our Facebook page. The CANSA team has started the challenge – see our video here:

My Cuppa, My Storie

My Cuppa, My Storie

English Media Release

25 Junie 2019 – Die ‘Cuppa For CANSA’ seisoen in 2019 strek vanaf Junie tot Oktober en KANSA nooi mense uit om ‘n Cuppa geleentheid of onthaal aan te bied. Dit bied vir kankeroorwinnaars en versorgers ‘n platform om hulle stories met ander te deel en om ‘Hoop’ te gee aan ander wat deur kanker geraak is. Die veldtog moedig almal aan om ‘n koppie van hul gunsteling drankie te drink ter ondersteuning van ‘n goeie doel om sodoende ‘n donasie aan KANSA te kan skenk.

Maria Scholtz, KANSA se hoof van Volhoubaarheid, sê: “Ons tema vir 2019 is #MyCuppaMyStory. Dit skep ‘n platform en ‘n geleentheid vir kankeroorwinnaars (pasiënte) en versorgers om hul stories met ander te deel en om ander met “Hoop” te inspireer. Lees meer oor KANSA se ‘Global Heroes of Hope’. Hulle kry die geleentheid om te wys hoe ander mense wat met kanker gediagnoseer is teen kanker baklei het tydens hulle reis met die siekte. Ons erken ook die ondersteuning wat versorgers aan pasiënte bied wat met kanker gediagnoseer is. Gedurende ons Cuppa Veldtog poog ons dat die stemme van kankeroorwinnaars gehoor sal word en om hulle met ‘Hoop’ te inspireer.”

KANSA se doel is om gemeenskappe te motiveer om betrokke te raak deur te help om tydens ‘n CUPPA geleentheid fondse in te samel wat gebruik sal word vir die ondersteuning van kankerpasiënte en om programme beskikbaar te stel by KANSA SorgSentra landwyd. Dienste wat deur SorgSentra aangebied word sluit opvoeding, vroeë opsporing deur middel van siftingstoetse, berading, ondersteuningsgroepe, pruike, prosteses, verhuring van mediese toerusting, hulp met die versorging van wonde en stomaklinieke in.

“Mense wat CUPPA geleenthede wil aanbied kan by hul plaaslike of naaste KANSA SorgSentra registreer en pakkette vir gashere en –vroue ontvang. Hulle kan hulle kontakte nader en hulle uitnooi na die geleentheid. Nooi ‘n kankeroorwinnaar of versorger uit om hulle reis met kanker en hul stories met ander te kom deel. ‘n Gasheer kan ook ‘n ‘virtuele’ Cuppa aanbied en boodskappe van hoop en aanlyn donasies op KANSA se webwerf plaas. Spesiaal gemerkte Cuppa-bekers (R50) elk kan ook deur aanbieders van Cuppa funksies by SorgSentra gekoop word om verkoop te word as ‘n spesiale aandenking,” voeg Scholtz by.

Meer oor KANSA

KANSA bied ‘n unieke geïntegreerde diens aan die publiek en mense geaffekteer deur kanker. As ‘n leidende rolspeler in kankernavorsing word die wetenskaplike bevindinge en kennis wat deur ons navorsing opgedoen word, gebruik vir ons gesondheidprogramme en om ons rol as waghond tot groter voordeel van die publiek te versterk. Ons gesondheidprogramme bestaan uit bewusmaking van gesondheid, siftingstoetse vir kanker en veldtogte oor gesondheidopvoeding, KANSA Sorgsentra wat ‘n wye verskeidenheid van sorg- en ondersteuningsdienste bied aan mense wat deur kanker geraak word, stoma en ander kliniese ondersteuning en organisatoriese bestuur, verhuring van mediese toerusting sowel as a tolvrye nommer wat geskakel kan word om inligting en ondersteuning te bekom. Ons verskaf ook pasiëntesorg en ondersteuning in die vorm van 12 KANSA Sorgtuistes in die hoof metropolitaanse areas vir weg-van-die-huis kankerpasiënte.

Navrae KANSA

Besoek of kontak jou naaste KANSA SorgSentrum, skakel, skakel KANSA tolvry 0800 22 66 22 of stuur ‘n epos aan: Benewens aanlynhulpbronne en Facebook-ondersteuningsgroepe bied KANSA ook veeltalige ondersteuning aan op WhatsApp: 072 197 9305 vir Engels en Afrikaans en 071 867 3530 vir  Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho en Siswati.  Volg KANSA op Twitter: @CANSA , sluit aan by KANSA op Facebook: CANSA The Cancer Association of South Africa en volg KANSA op Instagram: @cancerassociationofsouthafrica en LinkedIn.

My Cuppa My Story

My Cuppa My Story

Afrikaanse Media Vrystelling

25 June 2019 – It’s Cuppa For CANSA season from June to October 2019 and CANSA invites people to host an event, giving cancer Survivors and caregivers a platform to share their story and give ‘Hope’ to others affected by cancer. The campaign encourages all to enjoy a cup of their favourite beverage and support a great cause by giving a donation to CANSA.

Maria Scholtz, CANSA’s Head of Sustainability, says “Our theme for 2019 is #MyCuppaMyStory, providing a platform for cancer Survivors (patients) and caregivers to share stories that can inspire Hope. Our CANSA ‘Global Heroes of Hope’ truly demonstrate that cancer Survivors have the power to save lives by sharing their story and demonstrating the many ways to fight back during a cancer journey. We also acknowledge the support that caregivers offer to those affected. During our Cuppa Campaign we aim to create a space for their voices to be heard, to inspire Hope.”

CANSA’s goal is to motivate the community to get involved and assist by hosting a Cuppa event and help raise funds which will be used to deliver support and care programmes at CANSA Care Centres country-wide. Services include education, early detection screening, counselling, support groups, wigs, prostheses, medical equipment hire, assistance with wound care and stoma clinics.

“Hosts can contact any local CANSA Care Centre nationally to register their event and get host packages and invite all their contacts to support their event. Invite a Survivor or caregiver to share their story and journey. Hosts can also host a ‘virtual’ Cuppa and send messages of hope and donate online on our website. Specially branded Cuppa mugs (R50) may also be purchased by hosts or the public at Care Centres, as a special keepsake,” Scholtz continues.

CANSA encourages hosts to share photos, ‘pledges’ and stories about Survivors and caregivers as part of Cuppa For CANSA. Use the hashtags #MyCuppaMyStory and #CuppaForCANSA and share on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Corporates should save the date 1 – 9 August 2019, when workplaces can host Cuppa events to celebrate cancer Survivors and caregivers to raise funds for CANSA.

Official tea sponsor (Five Roses) is again committed to supporting CANSA’s ongoing care and support programmes.

(For more information, please contact Maria Scholtz, Head: Sustainability at CANSA at email or call 083 280 0725).


CANSA offers a unique integrated service to the public and to all people affected by cancer. CANSA is a leading role-player in cancer research and the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes, as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our health programmes comprise health and education campaigns; CANSA Care Centres that offer a wide range of care and support services to those affected by cancer; stoma and other clinical support; medical equipment hire, as well as a toll-free line to offer information and support. We also supply patient care and support in the form of 12 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients and CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

Queries CANSA

Visit or contact the nearest CANSA Care Centre, call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22 or email: In addition to online resources and Facebook support groups, CANSA offers multi-lingual support on WhatsApp: 072 197 9305 for English and Afrikaans and 071 867 3530 for Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Siswati. Follow CANSA on Twitter: @CANSA (, join CANSA on Facebook: CANSA The Cancer Association of South Africa and follow CANSA on Instagram: @cancerassociationofsouthafrica and LinkedIn.

Corporate Cuppa Week – August

Corporate Cuppa Week – August

CANSA invites you to be part of the story! Join us during Corporate Cuppa Week and make a difference!

Date: 2nd – 9th of August 2019

You can help support CANSA to deliver much needed care and support services to those affected by cancer, by joining the fun and creative campaign that is Cuppa For CANSA.

Become part of the Corporate Cuppa For CANSA Story in 3 Easy Steps:

1. Place your Corporate Cuppa For CANSA Order by contacting your local CANSA Care Centre:

  • Option 1: x 4 CANSA Cuppa Story-mugs with a special Five-Roses Tea-bag in each mug + 4 pairs of CUPPA Story socks @ R400.00
  • Option 2: x 4 CANSA Cuppa Story-mugs with a special Five-Roses Tea-bag in each mug @ R200
  • Option 3: x 4 pairs of Cuppa Story-socks @ R240
  • Option 4: Individual Cuppa Story-mug @ R50/mug
  • Option 5: Individual pairs of Cuppa Story-socks @ R60/pair

2. Host your own Cuppa by inviting colleagues to join you for a “quick-Cuppa” or a special “morning tea”. Share your special story, or share the Stories of Hope of the CANSA Global Heroes of Hope by sharing the following links with your staff:

3. Create your own story with special memories – by submitting your CORPORATE CUPPA For CANSA photos:

Log into Facebook and Like the Cancer Association of South Africa Facebook page. Send a Facebook Private Message to the Page itself with the following details:

  • Contact telephone number during office hours for the period when winners will be contacted, i.e. 17 August 2019.
  • Email address for further correspondence regarding the competition.
  • An indication whether the participant wishes to subscribe to CANSA’s monthly e-newsletter and email address (if different email address from above).
  • Terms & Conditions competition

Your support will help sustain our care and support programmes, which also promotes early detection.

CANSA’s Care Centres offer care and support to local communities, by providing cancer education and information to help reduce the cancer risk, as well as cancer screening and early detection programmes to those who have limited access to health care.

Purchase a Cuppa Mug Keepsake

Purchase a Cuppa Mug Keepsake

Anyone can become a #CuppaForCANSA host, by simply contacting their local CANSA Care Centre and using the handy tips available on the Cuppa website.

We encourage you to take part in this Cuppa season, by being a host, or as a guest of one of the CANSA Cuppa’s. Let your creative juices loose, and host a Cuppa.

For this year’s Cuppa, we have some lovely mugs available for purchase at R5o each. These mugs are a great keepsake for the Cuppa season and a wonderful addition to any event.

About Cuppa

For more info contact your local CANSA Care Centre, and visit

Le Creuset Contribution to Cuppa Campaign & Winners 2015 Le Creuset Competition

CANSA is thankful to Le Creuset for supporting our Cuppa Campaign yet again.

For the fourth consecutive year, Le Creuset committed to assisting CANSA with their Cuppa For CANSA campaign. The focus for 2015, was on CANSA Care Homes, as reflected in the ‘Care in a Cup’ theme.

Le Creuset hosted their own ‘Grand Cuppa For CANSA’ tea parties at three of the country’s leading high tea establishments – in Johannesburg (Inanda Club), Durban (The Oyster Box) and Cape Town (The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel), and raised a combined total of R174 115-00 for CANSA, with the generous support of attendees.

In addition, Le Creuset also boosted its own contribution by donating 15% of Chiffon Pink product sales during the campaign period (15 September to 31 October) to CANSA, amounting to R77 390-62.

Thank you Le Creuset!

Winners 2015 Le Creuset Competition Announced

As part of the campaign, Le Creuset challenged people all over the country to gather with friends and loved ones to share a friendly cuppa, in order to raise further awareness and funds for CANSA. Three fabulous category prizes were up for grabs, each consisting of a R5000 Le Creuset voucher.

Competition winners were thoroughly deserving – read more and be inspired by entrants’ fabulous Cuppa pics


Live, Love, Laugh and Don’t Give Up

Helen Barnard shared her story recently at the 12 Apostles Cuppa Event:

Celebrating my cousins birthday during chemo
Helen celebrating her cousin’s birthday during chemo…

In 2009 my gynaecologist suggested I have a total hysterectomy, and to go on hormone replacement tablets.

In Feb 2011 they detected a lump in my left breast when I went for my yearly mammogram and they removed it – it was found to be benign.

In Sept 2011 my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer. Being very close family we were all shocked. We all supported her for the Ithemba walk, but if I look back we did not really know what my cousin was going through or feeling.

In January 2012, I decided to do one of the items on my bucket list – I wanted my motorbike licence. After going to a driving school, with no bike of my own, I eventually received my licence. A very proud 53 year old. Another goal achieved.

My friend Lyn and I used to meet up at the local pub, have our two brandy and cokes and then go off home. This was done diligently every Friday, as Lyn used to work long hours and a Friday night was the only night she felt she had to entertain herself.

At times I did not feel like going, but felt so guilty that I just used to go along so I could see Lyn’s smiling face when entering the pub. She was a quiet person. Never said much, but soon got to know everyone and she came out of her shell.

During our chats she said that she had problems with her neck I eventually convinced her to see a doctor, as the physiotherapist sessions had not helped her. She was then informed that she had cancer (a tumour in her neck) a very rare bone cancer that was only diagnosed from a Professior in Bloemfontein after quite some time. I was shocked.

Not 2 months later, I told her that I had something to tell her – I HAD CANCER – we politely laughed it off and said we were not returning to the local pub, as it was not brandy and coke, but brandy and cancer that the two of us had got.

Sharing a special moment with Lyn…

Lyn had a difficult time with chemo, radiation and skin graft. We were due to visit her on a Tuesday night and in the early hours of the morning, we were informed that Lyn had passed away. I missed her as we used to have regular chats re what we both were going through, and the times that we had spent together at the local pub and New Year’s Eve dances (she loved dancing).

At the end of Feb 2012, I went for my yearly mammogram. Once again there appeared to be a suspicion that something was not right.

This had happened so many times previously, so when they called the doctor to come and check it, I was not at all concerned. She was a lovely Indian doctor and her comment to me was “ this time it looks like it is going to be positive.”

My reaction was to say “ok”. They then decided to book me in for a needle biopsy. I got a call from my surgeon at work – his words – my girlie you have cancer. Not even 6 months after my cousins diagnosis (diagnosed 1 March 2012, Grade III Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma). This cancer starts in a duct then breaks through the duct wall and invades the fatty tissue of the breast. This is the most common one.

I had no reaction. I think I just accepted it. I picked up the phone and politely told my two sons over the phone, which today I don’t think was right, and said I had cancer. My youngest son doesn’t show emotion. That evening we had a family braai. I noticed him standing all alone in the dark and went up to him to ask him whether he was alright. He burst out crying. This was the first time in years that I had seen him break down and cry. It killed me to see him hurting so much. I also informed my sister who cried her eyes out, but I just told her I would be fine.

I had booked to go to Thailand in April, but was advised to have my breast removed immediately. The cancer was aggressive and was advised I start the necessary chemo and radiation. This trip was cancelled immediately.

On 12 March 2012 I was admitted to hospital – my sister right behind me in the theatre, as well as my friend. All people around me at theatre wished me well, with tears around me from my sister and friend. I tried to be strong but the tears rolled slowly down my face. I turned away as I didn’t want them to see how frightened I really was . When I woke up I realised the reality of the situation. My breast was gone, but still nothing. All I could do was be strong. I could not afford to break down. I had a long road ahead. Little did I know how long that road would be.

I recovered quickly and my plastic surgeon came and told me what was in store for me in the future and how she was going to reconstruct the breast. I requested that I had a skin saving reconstruction done. In this way she did not have to use part of my shoulder muscle to build up a new breast. What she did was she put an expander under my skin and every 3 weeks or so I would go and have some liquid injected into a port which would stretch my skin. This would be done until my skin had been stretched until the required size and left like that until 6 – 9 months after radium had been completed. This would give the skin enough time to heal.

I had to wait for about 3 weeks after the breast removal until chemo began. I did not know what to expect. I met with my oncologist who explained that I would have 4 red devil sessions (this was very strong chemo) with three weeks apart, then another 12 weekly sessions of chemo, a break of 3 weeks and then 5 weeks of daily radium sessions. Thereafter I would be put on a tablet for 5 years (Arimidex).

I was told that within the second week after the first red devil session I would begin to lose my hair. Once I experienced the loss of hair, I should go and have it all shaved off, as it becomes very traumatic. My hair had always been healthy, long and very dark.

By the second week I started experiencing the hair loss. It became so bad that I looked like Mo from the 3 Stooges. A bald patch right through the middle with hair only on the sides. When I brushed my hair, it started to come out in bunches. I then decided that I would go and have my hair shaved off by my hairdresser that had cut my hair for

He knew what I was going through and when I sat down with him – his words to me were, “Are you ready for this?” He put his hands through my hair and there and then the hair came out in bunches in his hands. His answer was, “Yes, I can see what you mean, it has to come off.”

He started to shave my hair and slowly the tears rolled down my face. I didn’t sob as I did not want anyone to see what I was going through, but by this time all eyes was on me and people started to come up to me to tell me how brave I was, how they had shaved their hair for their mom, and one woman started to cry. I got up and went to comfort her telling her that I would be fine. That helped me that I had to comfort someone else.

I had my wigs with me – I had purchased them while I still had hair as this helped the lady decide which would be best for me as she could see what I looked like before my hair loss. I had a short wig (bob style) and one that was just like I currently look – long and in layers. My hairdresser was fantastic, and I am thankful to him for his sensitivity to my situation.

My eyebrows and eyelashes also fell out. I attended a Look Good feel Better day. Here they taught you how to put makeup on such as drawing eyebrows, how you had to measure it so it looked the same and in the right place, and line your eyes so that it was not noticeable that you had no eyelashes.

I experienced many funny situations with my wigs, which my friends had many laughs about:

When coming out of the hospital one day, I walked to my car in the howling South Easter. As someone wanted my parking space, I directed him to my car and the next minute I felt my wig blow off into the wind. Well, the man’s face in the car was that of disbelief. He didnt know to react. By that time my cousin had run down the road after my wig!

Another time it was my birthday and we went to The Mount Nelson Hotel for high tea. There was an elderly gentleman serving us and handed me my cup of tea and at that point the wig fell backwards and I was wigless. The faces around me were priceless. He tried to comfort me by saying that I was beautiful with or without a wig. But I told him I was ok, that I was laughing and not crying. Needless to say he did not return.

My two sons took me to lunch one day. We were sitting on a balcony – it became very hot and I asked them if it would be ok if I took the wig off – their replied, “Whatever makes you comfortable mom.” I then took it off which resulted in funny looks around me – people did not know whether to look , whether to smile, or pretend they had not noticed. I just carried on with our lunch of course!

My wigs sometimes looked like a wig and other times you would think it was my normal look. I would confuse friends on a daily basis by never looking the same, wigs changed, bandanas or sometimes just going plain au naturel.

I took strain with the first rounds of chemo – some sessions I could not do within the required period as my blood levels weren’t right, so I had to wait until the following week.

The first time that I could not go for chemo due to my blood levels upset me terribly – I thought I had done something wrong. I soon learned that it was not me. My body had to build itself up. No amount of whatever I would take would help my blood levels.

I would go to chemo on a Wednesday and go back to work on the Monday. Sometimes dragging myself there and feeling so weak still, but knowing that as I was alone and had no partner in life, I could not jeopardize my job with my illness.

My sister (a real Florence Nightingale) would arrive on a Wednesday after work ready to look after me. Here she would cook up a meal and open up all the windows and doors so I did not get nauseous from the smells.

Well chemo had certainly taken its toll. I was tired but pushed myself on, knowing that I had to find light at the end of the tunnel.

I would surround myself with positive people. Some people had the nerve to tell me I was going to die and that chemo would just prolong my life – I cut them out of my life. My support system was great. I did not have to see anyone. Small things like a bbm, text message and phone call helped me get through all of it.

I received a lot of support from a group of people from a Music Group (this group of people would often raise funds for people in need of support – such as cancer). What a support group they proved to be and still are. They laughed and cried with me.

I met so many people during the time that I was under chemotherapy. I knew exactly who the new patients were and would always go over and chat to them and encourage them, even if I knew the news was not good.

They always used to ask me why I was there. They would not believe what I was going through, as I was always laughing. I also always had a wig on. When they said they could not believe I was also ill, I would take my wig off and show my baldness.

I was known as the lady who was always laughing and going to the loo, as the drip made me constantly run off to the ladies. I would have the patients in fits of laughter with all my stories. At times I would nod off due to the chemo, and find a sister waking me up to say that the treatment for the day was finished.

Once I started my weekly sessions I would drive myself to and from chemo – trying at all times to be as independent as possible and not relying on help from others. My normal housework routine continued throughout my illness, and my son would treat me no differently. He believed by treating me as if I weren’t ill, it would give me strength, and I do believe this worked. He never allowed me to let my illness get me down. He would joke with me (even though inwardly I knew he was hurting to see me go through all of this).

In October, once again as a family we did the Ithemba walk, and even though on chemo I managed to do the 5 km.

Ithemba Walk

On a Sunday when going for a drive – I would not have the strength to even get to the car, but I would force myself and when getting to the beach – which was where I would want to be – I would stare out at the ocean with the thought of why me? That thought soon became something of the past. I felt I didn’t have the right to ask the question, but to accept it.

On 31 October 2012 my chemo sessions were completed. I was over the moon. I remember the door opened, and all I could see were balloons. As they came nearer I soon realised that it was my friends. Well it certainly brightened up the whole room. The men in the room could not keep their eyes off the beautiful women, and it brought smiles to all around. What a wonderful sight this was, as well as an amazing feeling that I was loved by these people, who had come to celebrate this special day.

Celebration of end of Chemo
Celebrating after chemo…

People would tell me what I should take that would take cancer away completely – I know everyone meant well – but I do believe that faith in God, as well as having a positive attitude helps.

I changed my Oncologist once I commenced with radium treatment. My new Oncologist took the time to answer all the questions that I never had answers to previously – this made me feel so much more confident in where I was going.

The problem was that I had never had this illness before and never knew what to expect. I needed reassurance of where I was going. The new practice showed concern for me, going out of their way to assure me of their assistance at all times, advising me of who I was seeing each week and giving me the confidence in the treatment
that I was been given. (This was very important to me).

On 29 December 2012 I completed my radiation. The new year was to commence for me with all my treatment completed.

I felt like a weight had been taken off my shoulders. I wanted to go up Table Mountain to celebrate. It was too windy and so I went up to Signal Hill, wind and all, and let 5 balloons loose in the wind. Each balloon had a meaning. My life was starting fresh and my year of treatment had ended.

In January 2013, I had all my tests done and was given the all clear. My doctor confirmed I was in remission and my 5 year medication started.

I only wish that my friend Lynette was with me today to get the same results. I can say however, that my cousin who was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple of months before me, has also been given the all clear.

People tend to think that once in remission all is ok, but the fear when you go for your check-ups is still there. The joints in your body may still ache and your feet may still be numb.

We are not all so lucky to have a support system . When people say they have cancer, you tend to think of it as a death warrant, but there IS HOPE and for many of us light at the end of the tunnel.

My hair has started to grow back and I can flutter my eyelashes again.

I still live on sleeping tablets as I don’t sleep; find my hands and fingers clenched at times and then I have to remind myself to be calm and relax. But it is not all that easy…

I have since been boarded due to Fibromyolgia & arthritis and because I need to take a large amount of medication to manage my pain and keep me going.

Thank You God for being with me all the way. Through my experience I am hoping to help others through their tough times.

I can also say thank you for the times that I was able to have special weekends away while I was ill. Many a time I would stare at the sea that went on for miles in front of me and that is where my mind was at times. (A feeling of never knowing what to expect or where you were).

I definitely live life to the fullest and make the best of any circumstance that arises.

I have since had reconstruction done to my breast in the last 3 years. My last operation was in June 2015. It has been a success. My nipple has been reconstructed. My plastic surgeon advised me that this would come from the inside of my leg. The result could not have been better. (Smile).

I have however since had two knee operations, and been diagnosed with Barrett’s Syndrome (which means I have to go for regular scopes).

But I am still living life to the fullest (LIVE, LOVE, LAUGH and DON’T GIVE UP!)

So burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. TODAY is special!