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Marilie Oberholzer – Cancer Stories of Hope #CANSA90

What is your current cancer diagnosis?

I am healthy and my latest scans and blood work were clear.

How long have you been living with that cancer?

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2016.

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

In general it does not have any effect on me except for knowing that you (your health) is somewhat compromised. I definitely eat more healthily, but this is also in part due to having been diagnosed as insulin resistant in 2019 (which I’ve turned around since).

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

Yes and no. My mom had breast cancer 12 years prior to my diagnosis, but was already past age 65 then. The doctors tested my cancer and I was told it was not hereditary. However, I underwent genetic testing as I was only 36 years old at diagnosis, and I wanted to be sure for my brother’s kids’ sake. I have no kids, so they are the only ones that could have been at risk.

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

It was really difficult during 2017 as I had most of my treatment during that year: 6 rounds of chemo (3x red devil); a lumpectomy, and 3 days later a mastectomy; 25 days of radiation; (clean) liver biopsy.

One can’t really plan anything as everything is dependent on what your bloodwork is going to say.

I do, however, maintain that having worked full-time (or as far as possible) during everything, has been my saving grace, and kept me from “losing it”.

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

I am definitely more cautious knowing I am somewhat more at risk. But I also don’t 100% isolate myself the entire time.

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

I would definitely suggest that women start going for mammograms earlier in their lives, every 2nd year if need be, but the “standard” of every 2 years starting at 40 years is too late (I think). Breast cancer (and all cancers) are much more prevalent nowadays, and early detection is key.

What is your message to other people living with cancer?

This is a difficult one, as everyone handles diagnosis, treatment, etc differently. But I think one thing I would say is to face “this” head-on, and fight with everything you have. Medical advances get better by the day and new ways of fighting, and beating, cancer are being released “as we speak”.

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

I can honestly say that I have never had any pain whatsoever. I did experience some discomfort after my reconstruction operation, but never pain.

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