Cancer.vive

Cancer Survivors Caring | Creating Awareness | Celebrating Life

The Cancervive Team


Survivor Team

"We are a group of people who feel blessed and privileged to be survivors of cancer. We aim to make a difference by creating awareness of and educating people about the disease. We use music, dance and drama to spread our message that cancer can be cured when detected early, underscored by the inspiring examples of survivors celebrating their lives."

Amy Jansen

'Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference!' - Winston Churchill

In 2004 I hit the proverbial midlife crisis with a bang. Suddenly I became an expert on moisturizers, wrinkles, Botox and plastic surgery. My bucket list filled with adventures that would make adrenalin junkies proud. I felt focused, confident and in control of my destiny. Breast cancer was definitely not on my list.

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This all changed suddenly, when in December 2004, hardly 6 months after my big birthday, I felt a hard, marble like lump in my right breast. Trembling I raced to my GP. Within days I had a biopsy, lumpectomy and lymph nodes removal and a Cancer Diagnoses. This news shook my perfect world apart. Fearful thoughts agonized me. I faced the choice to give up or rise up. I MADE THE CHOICE TO FIGHT, not only survive but to LIVE.

It has been 10 years now, and I am grateful to God for my second chance. My life after cancer is without limits or trepidations. I use all the opportunities that life offers and appreciate what I have. Breast cancer has most certainly changed my life. I laugh more, and truly appreciate Life and my awesome family and friends.

Cancervive gives me the opportunity to fulfil my passion in exploring life's journey and declaring to the world that I am free to live my life with joy on a motorbike with the wind in my hair helping others to see that they too can conquer this illness and to bring a message of hope. Never give up and to stay positive!

Elsabe Weyers

'She is clothed in strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future - fear is never part of my existence.'

I am a director of my own successful short-term insurance company, and have been for the past 20 years. I enjoy life to the fullest.

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I am the chair person for the Pretoria Moot Policing forum. I work very closely with the police members and experience daily how much need there is amongst these guys and women. I really feel I am at the very best place when I am on patrol with them and my CPF members, which I adore, combatting crime by searching drug houses, river areas and our mountains to search for drug dealers and criminals in general.

I also use this forum to do fund raisings for Cansa, amongst others, and then also other instances. We also run a program for the aged where we support about 30 elderlies. I have two amazing boys which I love to bits. The oldest a Chartered accountant and the youngest, a paramedic, who works for Netcare. I am extremely active and busy in my daily program but this is a dream I really want to fulfill.

I lost my husband, the most wonderful man ever, 10 years ago very suddenly when he had a massive heart attack. I never re-married because the happiness I experienced with that man, only happens once in a lifetime. My biggest reward was when I was awarded a new life after my cancer treatment.

Frieda Henning

"When cancer knocks on your door, a new day is not just another day you have to get through."

Every day, every week, every month, every year is a celebration of life. It is my passion to share this message of celebration and hope with others, to encourage them to make the right choices for their own health's sake!

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I was diagnosed with 3rd stage breast cancer in July 2005. I have always had a very healthy, active lifestyle and have never smoked. I also had no family history of Breast Cancer.

I had a mastectomy, immediate reconstruction, 12 shots of chemo and 30 radiations. My journey with reconstruction was another challenge. My body rejected the prosthesis implants twice. Five reconstructive operations later, I finally completed my journey to wholeness! I do not have to hide my breast behind a scarf or jacket any more. What a blessing!

After my cancer journey I also survived a motorbike accident. I was in ICU for 18 days, fighting for my life. My recovery was a miracle! I therefor know that God has a plan for my life and that what we do as Cancervivers, is part of this plan. I now know that hope is the only thing that is stronger than fear!

Janie du Plessis

"I am only one . But I am one. I cannot do everything but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do."

South Africa first came to know Janie du Plessis as one of South Africa's youngest TV Presenters in the 80's. Her personal charm, radiant good looks as well as colourful life has made her a highly sought after South African celebrity, followed with interest by the media and South Africans over the past 30 years. After being diagnosed with breast cancer whilst living in Europe for 11 years, Janie returned to South Africa and has since started her own property business, became a popular and sought after motivational speaker as well as passionately participant and campaigner for various relevant charity causes. She is a 14 year survivor and lives in Cape Town with her 2 sons, Misha (20) and Benito (18).

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Itumeleng Letoaba

'I wear my scars with pride, as they are a symbol to my journey of early detection saves lives."

I'm Itumeleng Letoaba a 9 year old breast cancer survivor. In 2009 I discovered a lump in my left breast and took some tests. The results came back positive (stage3 breast cancer) and started my treatments, chemotherapy, surgery(mastectomy) and radiation until I finish them.

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Honestly, my journey with cancer was not simple but an eye opening one and I'm glad to be where Iam today, and so proud to say I might have had cancer but CANCER never had me and I'm confidently wearing my scars with pride as they are a symbol to my journey of cancer and still giving hope to the hopeless by spreading the word of early detection saves lives.

Lorraine du Toit

"Live life, Love life, Celebrate life!!"

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2012 when I went for a routine mammogram and they discovered a lump in both breasts! It was the worst day of my life, I can still remember how lonely and frightened I felt.

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With the support of my wonderful husband at my side every step of the way, and all my wonderful friends, I soon realised that being diagnosed with cancer, does not mean the end of the world, but the start of a wonderful celebration!

I had a double mastectomy in June 2012 and as the receptors were not so great, I had to go for chemo treatment in September 2012 even though it was only stage 1 cancer. During the past few months, I have became aware of how fragile life is, having been diagnosed with the struggle with the 'Red Devil' and almost losing my life due to an allergic reaction to the second part of my chemo treatment. However, it did not get me down! This all made me even more determined to Celebrate Life to the fullest!

I am honoured to be part of the Cancervive Ride 2014 and create awareness about cancer. I want to share the message with others and encourage them to make the right choices for their health!

Naniki Seboni

"I am perfect through my imperfections"

When it comes down to it, I had a pretty active childhood. I was exposed to the sun pretty much for four – five hours a day, playing extra mural activities at school or playing with friends when I got home. I had always known I had sensitive skin, as I would get sun burned and heat rashes ever so often. And all that burning came with serve nosebleeds. I just took it that I was in the sun longer than I should’ve been to begin with. Being the hands-on-parent that my mother was, she took it upon herself to start buying me sunblock to protect my fair complexion. It was a great idea and I always had it on. From Spring to Autumn I was coated with a good amount of SPF 30 sunscreen.

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Fast forward to age 20/21, I developed a black spot on the lateral side of my left leg. With my thinking, it was just a “beauty spot”. Although when it started growing to double the size I started getting worried. Not worried about it developing into cancer or anything, but worried that people would see and make fun of it. Before I knew t, a friend of a friend asked me, “Why do you have a fly on your leg”? So there I was, hurt, embarrassed and in need of long pants. From then onwards it was covered 90% of my time outdoors.

One painful afternoon at home turned into a blood pool on the carpet. I had mistakenly bumped my leg against the coffee table and it bleed profusely. It grew to four times its original size and hurt more than tears could show. Time passed and I eventually went to the hospital for a normal check-up, and before I knew it, I was booked for a biopsy at dermatology. Long story short I got my results and doctors diagnosed me with Malignant Melanoma. Blank face, until he said it’s a severe form of skin cancer. My response: “How, I’m black”. This didn’t seem like a disease black people could even be exposed to. My ignorant self was due for a wakeup call.

There I was, 24 years old and now I had cancer. This wasn’t the way I had planned my twenties. Now faced with this disease I had a choice to make: do I crumble and give up without trying, or do I stand and face this disease head on. The answer seems obvious but I curled up in a ball and cried for days on end. I’d gather the strength to go to hospital, but only to turn half way and head straight back home to my tears. With the support of my mother, my boyfriend and the cancer champions of hope group on Facebook, I had to be a big girl about it and I went in to remove the cancer.

Now here I am today, cancer free and a great deal wiser. This entire journey has been an eye opener and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything. Don’t get me wrong, I mean who would want to have cancer? I am only one of many who have conquered this disease and my story is still being written. So today my arms I open to all and my heart and story I share with others.

Nilo Kriek

I choose to embrace the opportunity once again - to LIVE LIFE

My LIFE is a Gift! I am 48 years old, born in the middle of the Kalahari and now living in Cape Town. I love the simple, small things in life, like good coffee, dry firewood, starry nights. My new life journey started 2 and a half years ago when I was diagnosed with stage 3 Colon Cancer. Before that my life story was pretty average...Now my story is one of Grace!

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I got the best gift anyone could ever ask for... the gift of Life ... more than once! A new chance on life to embrace my relationship with my Father God, He is the one who set me free and that's what I value most. A chance to share with friends and family - my new journey in life - one with new meaning, filled with hope and blessings!

This 'road trip' taught me to collect memories rather than stuff, treasure relationships with friends and family, have that extra cup of coffee... create new opportunities for sharing and caring, meet new people, collect moments! I will exchange the learning's while going through 8 months of chemo for nothing in this world. I have learnt so many life changing lessons, or rather life enhancing guidelines and am passionate in applying it to my everyday life.

The understanding of being in the moment, being 100 % where you are, breathing deeper, slowing down, how my thinking impacts my every moment, being more patient and many more. Not being afraid for anything anymore, not even death. I am free to live and to trust the moment, a moment lived as a survivor, grateful and thankful for every new day given to me in Grace ! I love travelling, the outdoors, nature, experiencing and venturing into the new, the different, the unexpected surprises, and I make sure that I do this often.

There are no more boundaries to my comfort zone, experiencing things as they are, stretching my boundaries to experience things differently than before, and loving the new learning's as I go along. Finding new ways, being more flexible and balanced, these are all so special now. I CHOOSE TO LIVE. I believe that life is choice full. It is about our way of thinking and what we value. So the uncalculated Blessings do not pass me by anymore, I live with an awareness and gratefulness. Now is the time to give back, to share with others, an opportunity to give of yourself, to make a difference in someone's life, this for me is expressing meaning in life.

Rayghana Cassiem

'It's not how much you accomplish in life that really counts, but how much you give to others."

One Friday evening in August 2005 I was home alone. My booby was itching and I thought, let me examine my breast. I felt a 'gland', or so I thought. I went over the 'gland' again and immediately thought, let me have it checked. It was not painful. I went to my GP who has referred me for a mammogram and ultrasound.

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I have not given cancer a thought. I thought it was a fat gland and I will have it removed via surgery. At the X-ray dept I was asked many questions about cancer and I thought what 'silly billys'. They also asked if they could call in a surgeon. Thinking it was not serious; I said no, I will go the GP with my results.

I got to his rooms and he shared with me the devastating news. I still did not believe him. He referred me to a breast specialist who did a biopsy, and this also confirmed I had breast cancer. Oopsie!

I was 46 years old. I was Estrogen Receptive Positive with breast cancer, 3rd stage. I just could not believe it. I thought: why NOT me? I have accepted the news and thought; I have two things to do: either give up or accept and brave the condition.

I had surgery; I opted for a lumpectomy as I was given two options. I went for 8 sessions of chemotherapy and 30 sessions of radium treatment. I have been on medication for 3 years and 10 months when a cancer lesion was discovered in the Breast Bone via a Bonescan, in June 2009. This took me to stage 4.

This I regarded as very fortunate as I had no pain and it was early detected. I had 10 session of radium and is currently still on chemotherapy and medication that doesn't formulate Estrogen that triggers the cancer.

Cancer has changed my life for the better. I regard the diagnosis today, as a blessing. I'm using my experience to assist new cancer survivors; I have a positive mind; I exercise, eat healthily and surround myself with positive people. I have had many travels due to cancer and have been to Canada where I represented Africa in Dragon boat racing for breast cancer survivors. Challenges make you stronger, and you will only know your strength once a challenge like this faces you. Now I can appreciate the little things in life: support from friends and family, the air that I breathe, the peaceful life I lead, my health, happiness, and pain free body. I live in the moment. I count my blessings!

Raynolda Makhutle

"Life begins at 40!"

At the age of 40 celebrating a few achievements, my ears received shocking news that turned my whole life around. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 1998, I thought it was the end of the journey of life.

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Working as a banker at that stage, I knew nothing about cancer, except that it was a killer. I had suffered from womb complications since the age of 15. When I turned 40, I decided to get a second opinion by going for a general check-up. The doctor suggested a pap smear. When I went for my results, I was told I had cancer. That was the worst news and unbelievable because we had a family doctor for 10yrs who never suggested a pap smear. Anger and frustration boiled in me. I had mixed emotions because of lack of knowledge. An unemployed husband for more than 4 years with 2 teenagers, one in college and the other one in High School.

I had my operation shortly after that and 3 months later when I went for a check-up the tests confirmed tumors on both ovaries. The oncologist suggested a hysterectomy. In our culture, when you loose a womb, you are stigmatized that you are not a complete woman. I needed strong faith to overcome this trauma. My in-laws negatively influenced my husband, who began to physically abuse me and later left me.

After the surgery, I also had to deal with post-menopausal symptoms I knew nothing about. My medical bills were piling up. I had a financial strain, because my medical aid became exhausted, but I had to be strong and live for my kids' sake.

Twenty months after my surgery, my husband, who came back, died of a heart attack. I struggled with depression which led to a minor stroke. Five years after my surgery, my mom was diagnosed with a rare cancer at the age of 74. She had no medical aid. My family had to face another trying time. My survival convinced everyone that my mom would survive too. She survived for 5 years, but on the 8th of July 2009 we lost her to a stroke.

I am 55 years old and a cancer 'activist' living a purpose-driven life by teaching communities about awareness, early detection and prevention. 'Life is a jigsaw puzzle' (full of challenges), but we overcome everything by the grace of the Lord. It is a privilege to understand that everything happens for a reason/purpose. I drew my strength from God.

I will forever be grateful to God and People Living with Cancer support group and the Cancervive 2010 ride which gave me courage to pick up the pieces and face life to make a difference by bringing hope to the hopeless.

Today I am grateful to know that cancer is not a death sentence. I'm still alive, and blessed with seven grandchildren, including a set of twins. I am still a cancer activist who is living a purpose driven life by educating the communities, spreading the message of awareness, early detection and prevention. I have reached more than 31 000 people face to face with the support of PLWC and Cancervive and will continue to reach more, God willing.

Sonja Van der Merwe

"With a very positive mind I fight this C"

I am a very sportive persone any enjoying being healthy and fit.Two years ago I decided to practice fir the Two Oceans. I also ran a few 42km and 21km.In 2016 a week before the Two Oceans I felf a lumb in my right breast. Stage 2 Cancer was diagnosed.

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I am now 1year in remission and made my goal to go to the Two Oceans next year.I now have a passion to make a difference in peoples lives and my aim is to get full time involved with Cancervive

Lizelle Knott

"I want to inspire people. I want someone going through a similar journey as I did to look at me and say: “Because of you I didn’t give up"

I want to encourage woman who have been diagnosed with cancer to realise that regardless of the scars, or the hair loss, or how sick they may feel, they are still beautiful. They’re still a woman, a wife, a mother. And that they were given this life because they are STRONG enough to live it!

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In December 1996, at the age of 16 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's B-Cell Lymphoma in my chest cavity. I had a 13cm tumor constricting my windpipe and I was struggling to breathe. I underwent surgery, radiation and 10 rounds of CHOP chemotherapy. In October 1997 I was declared in remission and believed I had said good-bye to cancer forever.

But, in January 2014 my world was rocked by another cancer diagnosis. At the age of 33, 14 months after giving birth to my son, I was diagnosed with Stage II Breast Cancer in my right breast. I underwent a unilateral mastectomy and immediate reconstruction as well as six rounds of TC chemo. In August 2014 I was once again declared Cancer free.

Before starting my breast cancer chemo I did fertility treatment. My eggs were harvested, fertilised and frozen and the plan was to do an embryo transfer after 2 years of being on Tamoxifen. In November 2016 two little embryos were transferred back, but unfortunately the procedure was not successful and I lost both babies.

During the time that I was off of my Tamoxifen, and trying for a second pregnancy, my breast cancer returned. This time in my liver.

In April 2017 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Breast Cancer. I was devastated. Not only did I have to deal with the realisation of not being able to have a second baby, or provide a sibling for my son, I now also had to deal with my third cancer diagnosis.

I did 6 rounds of Xeloda oral chemotherapy, taking my last pill the night before leaving for the 2017 ride!

I have subsequently had 2 follow-up ultrasounds and there is currently no evidence of disease!! I continue to take daily Tamoxifen and will do so indefinitely.

Being part of the Cancervive team has been a life changing experience for me. I have finally found my tribe, the people who totally "get me". Sharing my story and touching lives is the greatest blessing I've received being part of this team. I have so many memories tucked away and they will forever hold a special place in my heart. I can't wait to see what the 2018 ride has in store for me!

Charlene Cook
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Mathapelo Molefe
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Thami Tshabalala
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Kele Tloubatla
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Debbie Collier
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Wilma Maritz
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