Having only one breast does not make Noxolo Fuleni feel any less of a woman.
Ms Fuleni, who was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy, shared her emotional and inspiring story at an event in Gugulethu on Saturday August 6.
Scores of women from different organisations were at Luyolo Hall to attend the event which was aimed at encouraging them to talk openly about diseases which affect them.
The event was organised by the Word Life Church as part of its fifth anniversary commemoration.
The 43-year-old mother of two said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2004, just a month after they buried her stepmother who had succumbed to her battle with cancer.
She said it became too difficult for her family, particularly for her father to accept that his daughter had been diagnosed with cancer while he was still struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife.
It was a bitter pill for her to swallow when the doctors informed her that her right breast would have to be removed and she could not understand how she could have got cancer because she was still young at the time.
She said she was happy to call herself a cancer survivor and she hoped people would realise that nothing was impossible if they believed that they could make it.
She said people often heard celebrities or powerful people saying that they had defeated cancer and that she wanted to use her life story to encourage people to never throw in the towel, but to continue to fight the diseases they were diagnosed with.
“I have defeated cancer. I told myself that I need to live to raise my children and in order for me to do that I needed to be strong and know that cancer is in my body so I can defeat it. My husband and my family have been my pillars of strength and because of the unwavering support they have given me, I have seen that life is full of possibilities,” she said.
Zethu Mtimkulu, who is a gynaecologist and obstetrician, appealed to women not only to take care of their loved ones, but also take care of their own health.
She said among the ailments that affected women in particular were cervical cancer, endometriosis, and fibroids, which, she said, were common in the black community.
She believed that a lack of adequate knowledge, information and poor health facilities were some of the main challenges facing ordinary people. “People need to watch what they eat and try to eat food that is not fatty. High blood (pressure) and diabetes are some of the diseases that are quite common to the black community.
“Yes, I understand that at times the health services rendered to them is poor, but that should not discourage them from visiting the clinics.
“There are many diseases that are affecting women and we as women we need to take special care of our health. Be selfish just for once,” she said. Pastor of the Word of Life Church, Zukiswa Buwe, said the role of the church was to uplift the community spiritually and physically. She said that they felt they needed to invite women from all walks of life and share knowledge among themsels with the aim to empower one another. She said the church opted to create this platform that would enable women to talk openly about diseases affecting them.
“We felt it was apt to have a woman empowerment conference that sought to equip women with ways to better take care of their bodies. We need to uplift each other as women and talk openly about things that affect us so that we can find solutions. This was our first event and we are hoping that this will be an annual event,” she said.