MARAPONG — October month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is no better way of understanding this life threatening disease than to talk to someone who has walked the road with breast cancer.
When Johanna Mokone (52), a single mother living in Marapong, discovered a lump in her right breast in 2010, she immediately went to see a local doctor. As business manager at a trustworthy company, she had a responsible position and a steady income.
The doctor referred her to Mediclinic Polokwane and a mammogram was done on her. According to Johanna, she was told to wait six months and then go back for a follow-up check-up. She says her breast wasn’t sore at all, but she could feel the lump in her breast all the time.
She went back to her doctor in Lephalale and told her that she was afraid to go back for a check-up because she couldn’t afford more tests. She waited almost a year and could feel the lump was getting bigger.
She discussed her situation with a friend of hers, who – at the time – was a nurse at Ellisras Provincial Hospital. Her friend urged her to make an appointment with a doctor at Ellisras Hospital who was well-known for doing biopsies on breast cancer patients. She followed her friend’s advice. Soon after the biopsy the results confirmed her biggest fear – it was cancer.
Johanna’s right breast was removed. She was just 47 years old. After two weeks in hospital in Polokwane, her agonising journey with chemotherapy started.
She underwent chemotherapy for six months and she says the side effects were terrible. The skin on the inside of her hands peeled off and she felt terrible. After a second period of chemotherapy the cancer cells were still not completely destroyed.
The doctors decided to give her oral chemo because the side effects were less severe. After a while they realised that the effects of the oral chemo were also too severe for her to handle. Johanna says the doctors said her bone marrow needed a break from the chemo. It was already a very difficult time, and then she received more bad news: she was retrenched from the company she had worked for since 1991.
In 2015 sonars and scans showed that the cancer has spread to her bones. Johanna still undergoes small dosages of chemotherapy and she feels better than ever. The tumour count in her blood is inconsistent, but everything seems to be perfectly normal according to the scans.
Johanna is scheduled to go for a mammogram again on 14 November, and a bone scan on 24 November. She is taking a vitamin supplement to increase her resistance and she goes to CANSA group sessions. “I read about CANSA in the Mogol Post for the first time and I contacted Marika van Zyl. Since then, they supported me immensely” Johanna says.
“I am a Christian and I have a lot of hope that I will conquer cancer. I am not afraid at all” she says.
Johanna’s experience of cancer in her own words:
“Cancer is a chronic disease;
Cancer affects all of us;
It does not discriminate;
Whether you are yellow, red, brown, black or white;
All that you must do is to fight back;
There is hope for cancer to be cured;
The book of Jeremiah 17:14 says:
Heal me, o Lord and I shall be healed;
Save me and I shall be saved;
For You are my praise.
Pray so-that God must save you from this life threatening disease. Eating well or a good diet is essential and taking your medicine in time”.