Five weeks after my 43rd birthday I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I thought it was the end of the world and my life. Fortunately, my gynaecologist referred me to Dr R J who does not see mastectomy as the only option.  He took his time and explained the options to me and recommended a lumpectomy.  He never rushed me into a decision, which was very important because at that stage I was not very rational, and it made me realize that I was not going to die within a week if I did not have a mastectomy immediately. A week later I had the lumpectomy, expecting to have a deformed breast. To my surprise my breast looked completely normal except for a 5cm scar (which is not very noticeable).  After the lumpectomy I started chemotherapy.  I also started hormone treatment to put me into menopause as my cancer was hormone related. After completion of the chemotherapy I had radiation treatment.  Now I have a completely normal life, I can wear any clothes I want, even a bikini if I want to. I don’t have any body-image problems because of the cancer. I am also not constantly reminded of the cancer which would have been the case if I had a mastectomy. In conclusion I just want to say that having breast cancer is not even remotely as bad as I thought it would be. The treatment was not fun, but it was not as bad as I expected it to be. The menopause with all the symptoms thereof is also not as bad as expected. There is life after breast cancer! I am just very happy and grateful that I had a surgeon who did not forced me into a mastectomy. My life could have been completely different.


I was still in the radiologist’s rooms being examined when I was told that I had breast cancer. .  Still in shock, I went back to my gynaecologist who had initially referred me for a mammogram.  She asked me if I knew of a surgeon and said if I did I should make an appointment as soon as possible.  I knew of a general surgeon who had performed minor surgery on me some 25 years earlier and went to see him.  He told me that a mastectomy was the only option as he would have to remove too much of my breast to do anything less radical.  I asked about immediate reconstruction and he said that could only take place in 6 months time and asked about seeing an oncologist only to be told it wasn’t necessary.  I felt like I was faced with a life or death situation and if living meant losing a breast I was prepared to do whatever was needed.  I have two beautiful daughters and a wonderful husband I want to grow old with. My husband wasn’t sure this was the way to go but at that stage we had no alternative and so I made peace with what was to happen.  I booked for surgery the next week and started to prepare at home.

The next evening someone I had worked with phoned me and said that she had heard that I was scheduled to have a mastectomy and said I should contact Dr C-P.  I was adamant that I was not going to contact the doctor as my mind was made up and what other prognosis could she possibly offer me.  My friend tried to persuade me for nearly half an hour and actually I was quite irritated when I put down the phone.   I felt like she was interfering and that my situation wasn’t the same as hers.  However the next day someone else phoned me to say please go to Dr C in Pretoria.  Was God trying to tell me something?  I remember it was a Thursday and my husband and I decided that if I could get and appointment before the following Tuesday, the day on which my mastectomy was booked, we would go and see this doctor.  It was 12.00pm when I phoned and I was asked could I make a 1.00pm appointment only one hour later.  We then knew we should go.

Our appointment with Dr CP saved my breast.  She said she didn’t believe a mastectomy would be necessary and that with treatment pre op (neo adjuvant treatment) I would probably only need a lumpectomy.  I was still a bit sceptical and was nervous that the cancer would return if I didn’t have my breast removed completely.  She showed me in the British Medical Journal August 2004 that years of study have shown that there is absolutely no difference in the chance of the cancer recurring whether the patient has a lumpectomy or a total mastectomy.  My husband felt confident that treatment was the way to proceed and the following week we met with Dr C., the radiologist and the surgeon who were all really encouraging and believed that a mastectomy could be avoided.

I cancelled the mastectomy and started chemotherapy.  I can’t say it was pleasant but after two weeks I couldn’t feel the small lump at all. I was so excited I could hardly believe it.  I went back to the radiologist who injected dye into my breast to mark the tumours so the surgeon would know where to work. I had another 2 sessions of chemo and was then scheduled for surgery.  By this time the small lump had totally gone and the other lump was half its original size.  I had a successful lumpectomy and today have a small scar across the top of my breast.  I then had a final dose of chemo followed by 6 weeks of radiation.

I have friends who have had mastectomies and still long for their own breasts and nipples with feeling.  I am so blessed and thank God for doctors like Dr C who are so dedicated to help women like me and show them that there is an alternative to mastectomy. , I am so grateful.

I pray that as you read this you will be blessed and encouraged, and if you face breast cancer remember a mastectomy is not the only cure.


June 2006


Friends / Readers.

Two and a half years on and I still feel as healthy as always.

I am thankful for the Grace from Above and that my path crossed with that of my wonderful oncologist, thankful to my Father in heaven that despite an aggressive form of cancer, that a mastectomy has not been necessary. I have heard of cases where even though the cancer was less aggressive, that a mastectomy was nonetheless the only solution.

I have endured chemo, an operation, laser and two years of treatment, the latter consisting of being treated (Herceptin) every three weeks. The chemo was the first step (this did cause hair loss) and was introduced to first shrink the lump in the breast, this can be done and this is where most women make the mistake of believing that a mastectomy is their only hope, please be aware that this is not necessarily the case. Once the lump had been shrunk, it was then possible to remove it, along with some glands, but the most important thing, is that I did not have to lose the breast! The two year treatment on the Herceptin had virtually no side effects such as hair loss and nausea. I can honestly say that it doesn’t feel as though I have suffered any trauma. My weight increased slightly and hot flushes plagued me, at first this was unbearable, but all things taken into consideration, I can laugh at it now. There were also times, in the beginning, where I lost my zest for life and was very unproductive in and around my home, it must have been my body trying to adjust to the changes taking place.

I know that being so positive and feeling so healthy can be attributed not only to the unconditional, unwavering support that I have received from my children, friends and family, but also from my oncologist in her unselfish love for all women and her dedicated staff. I stay focused spiritually, and this has given me strength.

Finally, I would like to advise all women; don’t see a mastectomy as an answer to a longer life. With all the medical technology available to us today, there are resources available to protect against such trauma. Get a second opinion. To go through a mastectomy, I believe, only creates more problems in the long run and is not necessarily a lasting solution in ridding you of the cancer.

Stay positive, believe in The Grace of God and you are on your way to being a winner!


September 2007


Just over 3 years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I was told immediately by the radiologist that I had two lumps in the same breast.  In a state of shock at what I perceived to be a death sentence, I was sent back to my gynaecologist who asked if I knew of a surgeon.  I did know of a general surgeon who had operated on me 20 years previously for a fibro adenoma, and so I made an appointment to see him.  He said that because I had two tumours I would need a mastectomy as too much of the breast would have to be removed for a lumpectomy. One tumour was 15mms, situated on the side of my breast and the other tumour was 4 mms and situated on top of my breast.  My hospital bed was booked and surgery was scheduled for 5 days later.  I had a peace about the mastectomy as I believed that this was the thing that would save my life and allow me to see our two daughters, then aged 15 and 12, become the women they are destined to be.

That evening I had a phone call from someone with whom I had not had contact for 5 years.  She had heard that I had breast cancer and was about to have a mastectomy and advised me to visit Dr. C-P as she  had a different approach to the treatment of breast cancer.  After trying to persuade me for nearly half an hour I put the phone down and decided I wouldn’t go.  I had made my mind up to have a mastectomy and that was that.  However, the next morning a friend of mine phoned and said that a lady in our church had breast cancer and told me I should go and see this same doctor in Pretoria.  Still not too sure if I should go, my husband and I decided that if I got an appointment before the scheduled surgery we would go and hear what this doctor had to say.  I can only say now, thank the Lord we met Dr C-P.

She explained that if I had chemotherapy before surgery, the size of the tumours would probably be reduced and I would be able to have a lumpectomy. My chances of survival would be exactly the same whether I had a lumpectomy or a mastectomy.  Still slightly sceptical, she showed us an article in the British Medical Journal, Aug 2004 that confirmed what she had said.

She set up an appointment for us to meet the radiologist Dr Carstens and the surgeon Dr Jacobs to assess my situation.  The 3 doctors agreed that a course of chemotherapy would be the correct route to take and thus began my treatment.

After two weeks I could no longer feel one of the lumps and 3 months later the other tumour had shrunk to half its size and so I had a lumpectomy.  I didn’t even need reconstructive surgery and have thin small scar on my breast. After surgery I had my fourth session of chemo followed by 6 weeks of radiation. Throughout the entire ordeal I was treated with kindness and consideration by these doctors as they did their best to allay any fears that arose and helped me get through this traumatic time.

There are so many things I have to be grateful for. Firstly, that God sent people across my path that cared enough to make me aware that there was an alternative to a mastectomy and secondly, that God led me to this team of doctors who are passionate about breast conservation and through their dedication I was spared from having a mastectomy.


V. B