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Carol’s Triumph Over Breast Cancer

This is Carrol Michel’s story as published by author, Anisa Ussuph (East Coast Radio), on 8th October 2009. Anisa begins by sharing how breast cancer has touched her personally:

You must know by now that Breast Cancer Awareness month has kicked in. A few years back, I lost a very dear aunt to cancer. Before that, the disease and its prevalence was something I read about with much concern but its true impact only really hit home when my aunt was diagnosed. In her case, it wasn’t breast cancer but losing her to the disease has forced me to take it more seriously.

According to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)*, one in 29 women in our country will be diagnosed with breast cancer. However, if detected early there’s an excellent chance of recovery.

I’ve had the privilege of chatting to Carrol Michel – a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed a few months back and has had a mastectomy.

Carrol had asked me to share her experience with other ECR listeners in the hope of providing inspiration to those who’ve also been diagnosed.

This is Carrol’s story:

Waking up early in the morning the Saturday before Mother’s Day this year, I experienced pain and discomfort in my left breast.  To my horror I felt a large mass!  I have always had a great fear of breast cancer. Was this cancer I asked myself?  I was initially scared and then I prayed that God would help me to face this crisis in my life.  I felt a sense of peace, but I still had to tell my family. My husband and daughters were shocked but very supportive.

Within two weeks I had had surgery and was told two days later, that I had cancer and would require a mastectomy.  I remember lying on the hospital bed with tears rolling down my cheeks.  I was upset but still reasonably calm.  The mastectomy took place the following day.  Although I had a problem with the anaesthetic and woke up on life support, the operation was a success.  Three days later I went home, I was determined to live! Two days later I was out and about having coffee at a local restaurant and chatting to friends.  I had a huge cut, 30cm long, that was healing well.  Within a week I went back to work wearing a strategically placed scarf that a neighbour had knitted. I was back at work teaching pottery to the children.

My amazing recovery happened for a number of reasons. Firstly, my family who took such great care of me, my friends and family around the world who sent so many e-mails and phoned so often, saying that they were praying for me! God heard their prayers and I was doing well. It was awesome. My faith in God that He would help me through this had not failed me, I felt so well, experienced no pain and I was alive to tell my story. Six weeks after the surgery the shock of having cancer really hit me hard, I was extremely tearful and just wanted to be alone. But the next morning I hopped out of bed ready for a new day and with a sense of adventure that I would get through this with a positive attitude.

Chemotherapy begun at the end of July, and my hair started to fall out in mid August. My daughter Angie and I had such a laugh when I went to try on wigs, after trying on a few we found the perfect wig.  I even looked younger – absolutely amazing!  Soon the hair was falling out in clumps and so I had it shaved off.  I will be having no bad hair days for a while.  Wigs or scarves will be the fashion for a few months.

Looking back over the past four months, I look more feminine now, I always wear pearls, lipstick and wear my scarf or wig with grace.  Life is full of adventure. I never know what will happen next, but I live one day at a time, with a determination to live life to its fullest.

To the woman out there who have a breast lump please get it checked. If you have had a mastectomy yes it is a traumatic time, but we woman of strength must rise up.  Talk about it with friends – many of them will be scared but help them to understand that having a mastectomy is not the end of the world.  It has made me a stronger person with a strong faith in my God.

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