October is Australia’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which provides an opportunity for us all to focus on breast cancer and its impact on those affected by the disease in our community. Like many families around the world, breast cancer has impacted my family.
It was in October 2010 when I received the horrible news that no daughter should receive. It was about my mother Betty’s diagnosis of breast cancer. This diagnosis came as a huge blow to my mother who was at that time supporting her sister Mmeisi through her recent diagnosis of breast cancer. My mother is a pillar of strength in our family and to witness and to experience her pain and despair throughout her recovery journey from a breast cancer diagnosis has been both inspirational and heart breaking.
In March 2013 we experienced a terrible loss of Mmeisi, my mother’s sister. I was there in the last week of her life, I held her hand, I experienced her pain, I fought with her and for her but in the end, the battle with cancer was lost. She was a mother of five, with the youngest only five years old. A lot can be said about the public health system in Botswana that I believe failed her, that failed us, that failed her children but anger will not bring her back. I now focus my energies in creating awareness of breast cancer and talking about the importance of early detection and treatment and fundraising for breast cancer research.
As a daughter of a mother who is a breast cancer survivor and a very strong family history of breast cancer, I have been put in the basket of the "high risk" category, which means every 6 months I go through the rigorous breast cancer examination to rule out anything sinister. Every 6 months I sit by the waiting room of the Wesley Breast Cancer Clinic after all the testing waiting to hear whether I have cancer or not. It is one of the most horrid moments of my life. However, I am grateful to have access to the best health care system here in Australia and can sleep better at night knowing the rigorous diagnostic process I undertake every 6 months will ensure that if ever anything develops, it will be detected early which increases chances of survival. Above all, having a mother with such a champion heart and strength like no other makes me belief that any health changes that come my way, I will survive it. She continues to pave a way for us and we draw on her "survival spirit".
As we conclude this breast cancer awareness month of October, I like to share with you in her own words, my mother's "Survival Spirit". May it reach you and inspire you!
The Survival Spirit: I am a Breast Cancer Survivor - By Betty Orapeleng
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 was like a hurricane in my life. From the moment I got the news, to the ongoing tests and treatments, it was a whirlwind through the medical system, I was scared, anxious, stressed and insomniac. When the dust settled, I found myself in the middle of limbo land. I tried to get back to the swing of things and move on, well the rest of my life was trying to find a way to a new normal. I needed to figure out what I can do in my everyday life to reduce the risk of ever seeing that cancer again. To look at my life and say “What was going on in my life before my diagnosis that may have played a role in putting me at risk? Was my life full of stress and hurt? Was I overweight? Was I eating all the wrong stuff…… I needed to know what I did that I needed to change because God knows I don’t want this to happen again.
While there likely isn’t one thing that you did to cause the cancer, there are things you can do to live your healthy life moving forward – as a Survivor. Once your doctor tells you that you have breast cancer – you can’t hear anything else…….. a powerful statement – “You have breast cancer” – your life changes with a snap of a finger. When I came to my normal senses, I began to have a unique blend of insight as to how best I could maintain wellness again beyond breast cancer….The Spirit of Survival strengthened. I always knew that healing is God’s will. So I started to say “why this wrestling” then the ceasefire state in my body began to develop. Cancer and I, have established a truce state in my body where we co-exist. I learned new ways of handling predicaments and tribulations, understanding that God may permit problems you are facing in life for the benefit they might bring such as to direct you (Proverbs 20vs 30), inspect you (James 1vs 2-3), correct you (Psalm 119vs 71-72), protect you (Genesis 50vs20), and perfect you (Romans 5vs 3-4).
I was intrigued and inspired by one article from one doctor who compares cancer to weeds as it crowds out good crops and plants. It comes as a result of unhealthy soil that compromised by stress, robbed of nutrients, contaminated by chemicals plus its further strained by negative life style habits. We should be evaluating multiple areas of our lives; quality of sleep, stress factors, food intake, weight and amount of exercise……………the root causes that may have contributed to the development of cancer in each individual.
In view of all these experiences, I looked inside myself for strength, knowing that Greater one lives in me, in every cell of my blood, in every bone of my body and in every fiber of my being. There are always some flat and stormy days, and that is okay…I always say to myself….IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL. Thanking my strong family support, - my children, my husband and siblings, as they are a very strong, sound support structure – having people you can talk to, who understand what it is like living with a monster, relieves the burden of feeling alone. Sharing with others in a similar position also helps nip out the thorn that has deepened into your heart, soul and body. Taking responsibility for, and owning your physical and emotional wellbeing is hugely liberating and empowering. With God All things are possible The word of God in Mark 11:22 “ Jesus said to them, Believe in God” AMEN…………
Watch Betty's story here on Youtube: Click Here