Breast cancer survivor

Cancer survivor Nomthandazo Khumalo (59) tells us about her journey.

‘I was in my twenties when I noticed I had lumpy breasts. I didn’t think anything of it until years later after I had given birth to my first child. One lump had gotten harder, especially after breastfeeding.

‘Each time the doctors took samples of the lump, but found nothing harmful. It took many years until I had tests done that revealed the lump was malignant and had grown to four centimetres big!

‘I went on chemotherapy treatment very soon after the diagnosis so that the lump could shrink before the doctors removed it. I did my research about cancer so I could prepare myself. I even changed my diet to suit my blood type because my immune system was going to be compromised during chemo.

Support from family and friends

‘I was so afraid because I thought I was going to die, but my daughter who was with me on the day, was very optimistic and that gave me hope. She convinced me I would get through it. She took me out for a special lunch where I ate prawns for the first time. We took some pictures and I had a haircut in preparation for what was to come!

‘After six months of chemo, I was frail and had lost a lot of weight and all my hair. Thankfully the tumour shrank and the doctors were able to remove it.

‘My family and friends were very supportive. I received so many text messages and calls from friends letting me know they were praying for me.

Positive thinking

‘I did my best to assure my family that I was going to be fine because I believe that the people around you learn from your own reaction. If you are afraid, they will be afraid, but if you are strong, they will be strong too.

‘Today I am cancer free! I go for my yearly check-ups, eat healthily and go to the gym. My hair has grown back and I have a full head of beautiful long dreadlocks. Cancer brought me closer to God, who I know will never fail me.’

Read more: Zoleka Mandela shares her experience and lessons learned from struggling with and overcoming breast cancer.

Read more: Learn how to check your breasts

Images: Gallo Images/Getty Images, supplied.