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Bernadette Zeelie – Cancer Stories of Hope #CANSA90

What is your current cancer diagnosis?

Remission after stage 3 agressive breast cancer.

How long have you been living with that cancer?

I was diagnosed at 30 years of age. I am now 35.

How does living with cancer affect you in general in your day-to-day living?

In most cases it is easy to hide your pain from others, because being in remission means you don’t look sick.

I opted for a double mastectomy and I don’t regret the choice my husband and I made. There was never any other option than “life”. Pain is a daily reminder of how far I’ve come. Bone pain is just one of the many reasons DisChem sees me often – Magnesium is always on my bedside table.

Cancer has left its imprint on everyone in my close circle of family and friends. It is daunting having to live with the fear of it returning, but I am so thankful of being able to advocate for cancer survivors – that this is not the end.

Is there a family history of cancer? Please elaborate if yes.

Yes, skin cancer on my mother’s side and my dad passed away at the young age of 48 due to colon cancer.

How have you or your loved ones been affected by you living with cancer?

My husband and two sons had to pick up the pieces after I fell apart during my cancer treatment. After my chemo sessions I would land up in hospital due to my immunity dropping to zero. Then I was placed in isolation which resulted in anxiety and many tears.

How has having cancer affected you during this time of COVID-19?

I have heard that those of us who use Tamoxifen, don’t get very sick. I am yet to see and believe that.

What is your message to our government regarding the prevention, management and treatment of cancer?

The government has been very considerate in granting me leave as I work for the GDE as a teacher at Benoni High School. I feel that the government could give more money towards research of cancer, especially those cancers that are not very well known.

What is your message to other people living with cancer?

My message to those living with cancer is to stop and smell the roses. Stop and look at the beautiful sunset. Acknowledge the fact that we are all here fighting this battle together. What gave me strength was to know “the only way out is through”.

Is pain a daily part of your life and how do you manage it?

Yes… I struggle with headaches and bone pain daily. Joint pain. Over the counter medicines work well enough. (But nothing beats my husband giving me a massage). As I’m typing this I am in hospital after a full hysterectomy as a preventative measure against this horrible disease.

How have you been involved with  CANSA? 

I actually did volunteer work for CANSA when I was younger. We used to wrap Christmas gifts in Westgate Mall many years ago. With proceeds going to CANSA.

Do you have a question?
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