When you Lose a Loved One to Cancer #Pinktober

I am a 28 year old Zimbabwean working as a receptionist. I am recently married and the last born in a family of 3, I have older sister and brother.
My mother was a book keeper. She was a mother of three and was married for over 30 years. My mother was strong willed and believed very much in God. She never doubted him.
She was diagnosed sometime in 1992 with breast cancer and won the fight, well so we thought. 10years later she was diagnosed with stomach cancer stage. She got really sick and weak kept going to the doctors and one even told her it was a mental disorder. A year or so later she just fell to the floor in pain and was rushed to hospital. A few nights before my grade 7 dance I was called to the room and my parents told me that she was given six months to live. I was young and I didn’t really know what was going on, I did not quite understand what it all meant. I guess all that hit me was that I might not get to see her again. Ever. Scary for a kid of 12. From there all I remember is growing up with the screaming from pain, vomiting and ups and downs. Up and downs from when she would be dancing to her favourite song to where she couldn’t get out of bed. From when we would sit as a family and have a meal to when she just couldn’t eat anymore.
It was the hardest, most painful and amazing journey of my life. To see someone you love dying in front of you and not be able to do anything to help them. She pushed me away so I wouldn’t get hurt but I saw more from the outside than they did from the inside. In a way my child hood was taken away from me. All the same, I wouldn’t be the women I am without seeing her be as strong, as happy and as grateful as she was for every day she had to live. It never broke her nor did cancer ever rule her life. She became close with God and together they went through this. I will never understand it but I will always admire everything I saw in her.
My family has cancer in both sides but mostly on my mother’s side. Her dad died of cancer, so did her brother. My mother and then my cousin (mom’s brother’s child) also died of cancer. I have never been tested and fear taking the chance of getting tested.
During this difficult time I was going through I lost almost every friend I had but one. Some of my family (uncles and cousins) that had nothing to do with my mother and some that my mother didn’t like craved the attention of someone in there family being dead. The same people looked forward to what belongings of hers they could get. It was a challenge we faced alone with my siblings. No one could understand nor did they know what to say so they distanced themselves from the unknown so as to protect themselves I am sure.
My resilience and strength came from the fight my mother put up; from her attitude of ‘life is what you make it’ and her trust in God which she had all the way to the end. Something else that got me through this journey is my belief in God and believing that he had a reason for everything, through to this day. I hated and I was angry. I couldn’t understand why us, why me; what did we do wrong? Were we cursed? Are we cursed? Did God think we were not good enough for him to let us go through everything we did? These were all the questions I had, and the emotions I felt.
The last thing is what message would I give to other women that maybe going through a similar journey? Maybe you have just found out that someone close to you has cancer, or maybe you are living with a loved one who has been diagnosed with cancer, or you have lost a loved one to cancer. Don’t worry about how everyone thinks you should handle this do it your way go through this your way. If you have cancer fight but enjoy life and don’t forget that living for tomorrow is not more important then enjoying today. That goes for those watching a loved one with cancer dying too. Once they are gone it’s a whole different story, nothing is the same and you can’t wish them back-so don’t run or hide from this. Be together, embrace each other’s company, talk about everything, live as much as life together gives you. You will miss them at your wedding and miss them through everything else. Losing them is hard and the memories of watching them die stays with you. It’s what you do with that that matters. Let their death be a reminder that you come from a strong family and do your best to be happy as they live on within you. There is probably not much more I can say because it’s different for everyone. JUST REMEMBER YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It helps to increase attention and support for the awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care of the disease. It is also important to document local stories of women’s journeys in this fight. Very often we read about the journey of women in another country, which at times sounds foreign. 

This series of local stories from local women aims at encouraging other women that may be going through a similar journey and also to encourage young women to get screened early, as early detection saves lives. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 1.38 million new cases and 458 000 deaths from breast cancer each year (IARC Globocan, 2008). Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in developed and developing countries. currently there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, therefore, early detection of the dieses remains the cornerstoneof breast cancer control. When breast cancer is detected early, and in adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured.