We'll likely see quite a bit of pink in the coming months what with Women's Month now, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. A lot of it is fluffy, some of it is feel-good, and others raises money for valuable organisations.
The special-edition Twinsaver Twin Ply Floral Fresh falls into the latter category, with R2 of every pack sold being donated to the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), which will help support women with breast cancer.
The twin ply (a fancy way of saying loo paper, I see) is lightly scented, and the package features 18 diverse cancer survivors, who Twinsaver chose as symbols of courage and inspriation.
I was interested to see that one of the women featured, Stacey Cohen, was in primary school with me, and being the same age as me, I was curious about her story, how at 36 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and how she survived.
Here's more from Stacey:
How were you diagnosed? How old were your kids at the time? What was the prognosis?
I had been for an all-clear mammogram in September 2011. I went to see my gynae to have a routine exam to see if I could try for a third child and he felt a lump in my left breast. He said I needed to go back to radiologist and have a biopsy.
The radiologist assured me not to worry and she would call me in a day with results. I waited three days and I knew something was wrong. She called my husband to tell him there was a malignant and large tumour in my left breast. They had said for years It was fibroids which turned out to be a 5cmm malignant tumor. My kids were five and seven at the time.
The oncologist said to me my situation was bleak but my prognosis was good. She said I was going to have one hell of a fight and hard year but to stay strong and I would get through it.
Did you feel that at the age of 36, you were too young to ever get breast cancer?
Firstly it doesn’t matter what age you are diagnosed with cancer – it's always devastating. However, it was hard to digest that I had cancer at such a young age, I knew though that youth would be my advantage as I was strong enough to get through treatment and all my operations.
What kept you going and fighting?
What kept me going and fighting, besides my family, was my love for life. I have always been a happy person and have a zest for life and I did not want my life to end. I would fight to survive.
How important were physical wellness and a good state of mind for your recovery?
I have always been extremely health conscious and kept fit, which kept my mind stronger. After five days of chemo I was back at the gym – fitness and health always been a way of my life – they helped me survive.
I believe in every way that being active helped me get through treatment. It also helped me fight infections, which one is prone to during chemo. Only once did my white cells drop very low that I had to miss a round of chemo. Once treatment and all operations ended, I bounced back to normal health quickly, and I think it was my active lifestyle that definitely played an important role.
Does your cancer and your recovery define who you are today?
Having cancer is a life-altering experience. While I'm the same person, I'm a lot stronger and appreciate the simple thing s we take forgranted. I am not the same person, but I don’t dwell on the fact that I am a cancer survivor. I am grateful for every day I get to spend with my family and friends.
You help other women with cancer. What advice/guidance do you give them?
When first diagnosed with cancer you don’t know what to expect and what I do is share my experience to prepare woman mentally and emotionally when they face the same fight. But at the end of the day nothing prepares the person for what they will encounter. The most important message I give them is they can recover, and don’t give in.
Tell us about the book you’re writing…
I'm writing about my story and my fight with cancer. My book is called Triangles and Squares – A Life Shattered. The triangle when pointing down is a symbol of the divine power of women. It is also connected to the number three, which represents wisdom. While the square represents numerous aspects of life, for me the four sides of the square symbolise the four elements, air, earth, fire and water, which are essential to our very existence.
The book is about my journey and my fight as well as my mom's fight with cancer that we shared at the same time. It's to help inspire woman and give people hope that cancer is not a death sentence. Have faith and when faced with such challenges, you can still overcome them.