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Rae van Nieuwenhuizen – Cancer Stories of Hope #CANSA90

Rae van Nieuwenhuizen

What type of cancer did you have?

Cervical cancer.

What is your current cancer diagnosis?

Currently in remission.

How long have you been living with that cancer?

Diagnosed 2016. Remission since 2019.

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

Currently in remission but living with the after effects of the chemo, radiation and brachytherapy. No sense of smell and had a temporary colostomy due to severe radiation proctitis. I often have bouts of diarrhoea and can only tolerate frequent small meals. Overall I am happy to be alive, but unable to work full time as a nurse, which has been my career for more than 35 years.

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

No

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

It took a huge emotional and financial toll on my family. My husband was my greatest pillar of strength throughout everything. He passed away suddenly and unexpectedly 8 weeks ago, following an aneurysm. As I cannot work the 12 hour shifts required as a nurse, financially it is a real battle which impacts on the lives of my children who help when needed. Emotionally it has really been a roller coaster ride.

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

I have taken all advised precautions and had my first vaccine mid-June. At the end of June I had a sore throat and a COVID test was done which came back positive. I was put onto all current suggested treatment and was able to avoid being hospitalized and am recovering well.

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

Cervical cancer needs to be spoken about more and a greater awareness of early detection and self awareness needs to be promoted.

What is your message to other people living with cancer?

Stay positive, keep up hope and remember that giving up is NEVER an option. Reach out to people and know that you are never alone! Be kind to yourself always.

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

Hip pain is managed with anti-inflammatories and light exercise. For abdominal pain I take an antispasmodic if needed.

How has CANSA supported you in your diagnosis?

I was helped with colostomy bags when a private company could not provide colostomy bags. CANSA delivered them to my house which is about 40km from Durban. I am also a member of the CANSA Survivors – Champions of Hope Facebook support group.

How would you like to get involved with CANSA?

I would be happy to do a talk and present a “Self Awareness and Early Detection of Cervical and Breast Cancer” Powerpoint presentation that I presented to the staff at our local hospital to help raise awareness.

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