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Jennifer’s greatest battle with cancer was more psychological than physical. It almost drove her to suicide. Twice. She shares her experience with us.
Four years ago, I felt a lump on the left breast. My left breast was also unusually larger than the right breast. I visited two rural hospitals where a test revealed a lump. A hard immobile lump. The doctors referred me for further tests. I was only 34 then. In the one week I awaited diagnosis, I had nightmares and hallucinations. I truly thought I would die. Mammogram results confirmed first stage breast cancer. Being a nurse, I knew too well the course of treatment and I was worried that my child was going to be left motherless. That brought me so much stress. I could not bear to use a mirror. I didn't want to see the diseased breast. Many times, I would drive to work and totally absorbed in my turmoil, I would pass my office only to realise when I was miles away.
My distress began showing in my work too. My performance waned. I didn't want to let anyone into what I considered my secret. In my experience, I know that breast cancer is associated with many myths including use of family planning. This creates so much stigma and It weighed heavily on me. So much that I attempted suicide twice.
I made the decision to start my treatment and sold my only piece of real estate to cover some of the costs. My doctor advised on a lumpectomy since the cancer had been caught early. The surgery removed the cancerous bits leaving most of the breast intact. I underwent chemotherapy then radiotherapy thereafter. In the course of my treatment I lost my fine mane, my skin darken and my lips got so flaky. I did not want anyone to see me in that state and so I became a recluse.
Blessedly, In 2014, I was declared cancer free and by 2015, I felt like my old normal self. I have had to adjust my lifestyle though. My diet is much cleaner now. I make sure to eat many antioxidant rich foods like red beet, turmeric, black pepper, vegetables, radish, carrots, soursop and thorn melon among others. Due to back surgery I had a bit later, I can't do physical exercises.
I would advise anyone who knows someone with a positive diagnosis, to offer them as much support as possible. It is a very lonely journey to walk alone.
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