Sharmila Hendricks – Cancer Stories of Hope #CANSA90
My journey with breast cancer started in 2007, when I was first diagnosed. I had always heard that cancer is a death sentence, and here I was, being diagnosed with breast cancer. I was in a state of shock. However, death sentence or not, 14 years later I’m still very much alive. Please allow me to share my story.
On 18 July 2007, I was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer, after doctors discovered a lump in my right breast. I was scheduled for a lumpectomy procedure, 2 days later; however, the surgeon performed a mastectomy since the growth was large. After surgery, I was scheduled for chemotherapy treatment. All these sequential events (surgery then chemo), were devasting. I was petrified and nervous throughout my treatment. But I told myself: think positively, remain calm, and place your trust in Allah (swt). After 6 months of chemo, I also received 3 weeks Radiotherapy treatment, during January 2008.
Afterward, Alhamdulillah with Allah’s Grace and Mercy, I enjoyed good health. I am also very grateful for the endless support I received from my husband, children, family and friends.
Fast forward 12 years later, to February 2020. One day, whilst going about my daily chores at home, I fractured the clavicle bone in my right shoulder. I was rushed to hospital where I was admitted to undergo various tests, biopsies (given my previous medical history), as well as an MRI scan, which showed that there was a mass under the collarbone. The diagnosis was that the breast cancer had spread to my bone. Once again, I had to get chemotherapy. This time the regular chemo treatment dosage was much stronger. It affected me badly, made me extremely nauseous, discoloured my skin, and I also lost all of my hair.
Throughout this ordeal I held on to the support of my family, the CANSA Support Group, and CANSA social workers. In my experience, it is the Support Groups and social workers who know how to deal with the mental strain and physical trauma of the chemotherapy. I found that they are very caring people, Alhamdulillah.
After 6 months of chemo, I thought I was cancer free but my physical well-being never returned to my previous healthy state.
But, since life just carried on, I plodded along the best I could, Alhamdulillah.
On 16 April 2021 I experienced a severe headache, which erupted into seizures. Again, I was rushed to hospital and admitted for more tests. This time I underwent a brain scan and the doctors told me that the cancer had spread from my breast to the collarbone, and had developed spots on my lungs and spots on my brain. I had 5 radiation treatments on my brain, and thus far I have not experienced any further seizures Alhamdulillah.
I am grateful for Allah’s mercy. What I would like to share with the readers is that: LOVE and support from family, friends and even medical staff, are essential for ones’ well-being.