Mandy Morris was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35 years in 2019. Since, she’s had a double mastectomy and is still receiving Herceptin treatment every 3 weeks.
She shares her fight against breast cancer with us…
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July last year. I noticed a discharge coming from my nipple and after going to the doctor, he told me that I had an infection in my breast and gave me antibiotics. I used the antibiotics for two weeks as prescribed, but I then went back to the doctor because I could feel that something wasn’t right. I could still feel the lump in my breast after two weeks.
He then recommended I have a mammogram after which I had a biopsy. I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma – stage 3 on 1 July 2019.
When I first got the news of my diagnosis, I was a bit shocked, but I also told myself before the time to be prepared for the worst. Before I went to the doctor again, I did some research on Google to see if I could find out what the discharge and lump could be, and you know, you just get that feeling – that it is the worst-case scenario.
I was heartbroken and just wanted to be alone the day of my diagnosis.
But the next day I realised that I must pull myself together and be positive – not for me – but for my son. I knew that if I fall into a negative space that I wouldn’t make it through this journey that I had to face.
Coping as a single mom
When I started my treatments, no one came to stay with me while I had my chemo. My 10-year-old son, Sachinn, and I are going through this journey alone. His dad lives in Ceres and we live in Worcester, and my family – my mother, sister and aunts live in McGregor.
It was very difficult coping as a single mom while getting chemo in the beginning. I still had to take care of my child and myself. But I decided that I still wanted to continue with my work at the Ambulance Services in the control centre – I didn’t want to stay at home. If you are alone you have so much time to think about what’s happening to your body and the situation you are in. I decided to stay positive and I prayed a lot.
There are days when I feel sick, it doesn’t happen often – but I would still rather go to work.
I had a double mastectomy
My doctor recommended that I have a double mastectomy. I was very emotional about this in the beginning and asked if there wasn’t another way to get rid of the cancer. Couldn’t we just take out the lump? But he explained to me that it would be better to do a double mastectomy because of the type of cancer I have. If they only removed the right breast, chances are that the cancer would’ve grown on the left breast at a later stage.
I finally agreed to do this because I would rather lose my breasts and live a longer life – I still have a child that I have to think about. But my family were not in favour of this decision. They were thinking that I’m young, without a husband or somebody special in my life – what would happen in the future? So, it was a very difficult decision for me, but I knew I had to choose to live for my son.
Through this journey I’ve realised that you must be thankful for your life every day. You shouldn’t take life for granted. I’m thankful that I’m alive – I want to see my son grow up, graduate one day and get married.
I’m still receiving Herceptin treatment to slow the growth of the cancer cells. I’m receiving my last Herceptin treatment on 23 October. Then the doctors will do all the tests again in January 2021 to decide whether or not I need to continue with the Herceptin treatment. We’ll also start looking into doing reconstructive surgery.
Don’t be depressed when you get diagnosed with cancer. It’s not a death sentence. You have to be positive, it’s a battle that you must fight. You have to stay positive otherwise you will not get through this journey.
Never quit on yourself, be strong, be positive and have faith.
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. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.