Gerda Jansen – Cancer Stories of Hope #CANSA90
What is your current cancer diagnosis?
How long have you been living with that cancer?
6 to 8 months.
How does living with cancer affect you in general in your day-to-day living?
It affected me physically and emotionally most, in being able to do my duties as wife and mom to my 2 little girls aged 5 and 9. Most days I couldn’t clean the house or cook or bath my little one, wash her hair, but worst of all, only afterwards I realized she still doesn’t know how to eat with a fork and knife because I didn’t teach her this when I should have. I missed out on sport days, when the eldest was participating in hockey. My eldest daughter took it on herself to look after her little sister. Helping her dress in the mornings, doing her hair. They came to sit on my bed most afternoons to tell me about their day at school. When they were hungry, and daddy was busy, they had to learn to make something for themselves to eat.
Is there a family history of cancer? Please elaborate if yes.
Yes, but not the same as mine. My grandfather had lung cancer and my grandmother had bone marrow cancer. I helped take care of my grandmother. She was too old for chemo, and I’ve changed her morphine plaster every third day.
How have you or your loved ones been affected by you living with cancer?
It affected our whole household. My husband had to run his business while taking care of the girls. The hardest days were the days I was in hospital. I felt weak and useless in not being able to do what I used to do. I missed out on important parts of their growing up. Even though I was in remission after six months treatment, I still had to go on with my treatment for another year and a half, until it affected my health too much and the doctor stopped the treatment. My girls felt very alone in those days. Friends told them their mommy is going to die of cancer. Even now when I need to go to hospital it brings fear and heartache to them. (I had many operations afterwards because of cancer). I have a cronic disease Fibromalgyia, according to doctor because of the chemo, cancer and shock to my body.
How has having cancer affected you during this time of COVID-19?
It didn’t affect me.
What is your message to our government regarding the prevention, management and treatment of cancer?
A lot more needs to be done for patients not having the financial needs for chemo. Funds and treatment centres needs to be funded by the government. More money needs to be spent on awareness campaigns.
What is your message to other people living with cancer?
Cancer affects you and those around you, but it’s just a name. God stands above all sickness. His heart is that you be healed in Jesus’ Name. You can overcome cancer. It makes you and your family stronger and creates a special bond between all members. Sometimes it’s tough, it’s lonely, it’s painful. But it also gives you the ability to understand and support others going through it. It doesn’t need to break you down, it may be dark around you now, but it will end and you are able to fight against it. You are stronger than you think or feel. There is still hope. Don’t let go, keep on fighting.
Is pain a daily part of your life and how do you manage it?
Yes, most days. I do sometimes take medication, but a hot bath and epsom salts helps to relax me and to get a good nights rest in helps a lot.
How has CANSA supported you in your diagnosis?
I became part of the CANSA Pretoria Support group and the other ladies encouraged me everyday and made me realise others battles are even worse than mine. They are now my friends. I am also a member of the CANSA Survivors Champions of Hope Facebook support group.