Members of the Nyanga Police Station Women’s Network held a breast cancer awareness campaign last Wednesday, October 20.
More than 50 women or “Queens”, including cancer survivors, clad in pink and white, were hosted in a tent at the Edith Stevens Nature Reserve in Philippi.
The were urged to raise awareness about cancer and educated about how it can be prevented.
Different speakers encouraged the women to keep their heads up and live their lives to the fullest.
They were also asked to honour those who have lost their lives to the silent killer disease.
Cancer survivors shared their stories and sent messages of support to those battling the disease.
Colonel Elizabeth Mentoor said she was diagnosed with cancer four years ago.
She remembers when she found a lump under her breast. “I was driving from work when suddenly my arm dropped. My thoughts were that I had worked hard. I proceeded home. But at home I was dropping things. I then went to the doctor but nothing was detected until one day when my husband said to me I must strip naked. He told me ‘I know your body’. I stripped and she really saw the lump under the breast. No one could have seen that,” she told the crowd.
The mother of twins had to be patient and go on all the necessary treatments and processes. She said while undergoing chemotheraphy, at some point she could not walk.
“It was a very aggressive case. When it was discovered I was on stage three and half. But I told myself that I am strong. I was sick for two years and had to resign from work. I had a very strong chemo. But let me tell you that today I can run five kilometres. I am also a volunteer for Reach for Discovery,” she said.
She said she believed that God put her through that but gave her strength.
Ms Mentoor said she has learnt that life sometimes gives you a second chance. She urged women to heal in their own way.
Another survivor, Liezel Snyman said she discovered in 2010 she had cancer of the lymphoma. She said it was on stage three too. “In 2010 I felt a lump behind my ear. I was losing weight. In December of that year I was diagnosed with cancer but I was in denial. In January of 2011 it was confirmed as lymphoma. It was too aggressive. I experienced hardship. I bled constantly. My pee was blood,” she said with a crowd just nodding.
She said her hope came from God too.
Encouraging other women, Ms Snyman said whilst there is breath, they need to know that there is life.
“As long as there is breath, there is purpose. We need no judgement but hope. It has been 10 years now but here am I. I am still alive. I have survived cancer. Whilst you are alive, make an impact,” she said.
Having beaten breast cancer, Ms Snyman’s sole mission in life is to inform people of the realities of cancer and how important early detection is. She wants to teach them how to cope with it. “We are here for a reason. We are hope carriers,” she said with the crowds clapping hands in appreciation.
Despite what cancer survivors have been facing, they all agreed that somehow they managed to find hope.
The message of support came from the Gift of the Givers’s co-ordinator, Ali Sablay who told them that cancer is not something to be ashamed of.
“It is a blessing itself. Never lose hope. Hope is in the hands of God. Never depend on a man because he might leave you, but God will never,” said Mr Sablay.
The Nyanga police station said awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer is key to early diagnosis. Captain Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi said women need to rise together to lift others. She hailed the success of the event and said the information of the day should be used effectively to benefit women.