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!

Belinda Botha

"Always Stay Positive!"

On the night of 05 August 2004, as I was getting ready for bed, I suddenly felt a hard lump between my 2 breasts. I showed my husband and as he was going to see the GP the next morning, I asked him to make an appointment for me as well. He then called me the morning of the 06 August from the GP’s rooms and said that my GP would like to see me.

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Short story short:  My GP referred me to have a scan taken.  A lump was found and he arranged for me to see the surgeon.  I then saw the surgeon after the long weekend, on 10 August and he arranged for me to have the lump removed on Friday, 13 August.  At the same time, he drew fluid from the lump and immediately he was concerned as there was blood in the fluid.

He said he would contact me again before the Friday.  He contacted me and wanted to see both my husband and I.  I then immediately knew what he wanted to share with us.

Anyway, we went to see him and he discussed the results with us.  I was sitting there. Listening to every word he was saying.  I then was diagnosed with breast cancer and he was very polite and nice and discussed the different types of breast cancer.  To his amazement, I was very calm and collective.I then said to him, that after his phone call, I had prepared myself for the news.  It was it, I could not change the situation.

On Wednesday, 18 August 2004, I went in for surgery and had my breast removed. There did also come something positive out about this diagnosis.  I had very big breasts and always wanted to have it made smaller, but the Medical Aid would not pay for the surgery.  So, by having cancer and having my breast removed, they could reduce my other breast as well.

I went through chemotherapy and radiation and will be in remission for 13 years in August 2017. I was positive at all times and had all the love and support from my friends and family, husband and kids.

My advice to everyone:  Not every cancer is the same.  But always stay positive and it will make life so much easwier for you and your family.

Charmaine Jansen van Rensburg

Being a Cancer, born on 29 June 1962, I’m an optimist rather than a pessimist, but I’m also a realist and I cope well when the going gets tough. I am an extremely devoted individual, who is determined to conquer any challenge life throws my way. My employees call me a punctuation and gramma ninja, for my attention to detail. I love travelling and going on relaxing holidays as much as I love doing outdoor activities. I’m always interested in learning about different cultures, traditions and foods that are home-grown in South Africa, and in the near future would like to add the Xhosa language to my vocabulary.

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I am Cancer free at this point and with a grateful heart I feel extremely blessed. I therefore would like in my own way to create further awareness & tell the personal journey I have had with Cancer. One of my best friends Wendy Higgens from Pretoria is on the committee, she has encouraged and supported me tremendously through my treatment. She will also be joining in on the ride and I would like to experience it with her.

Dale Clarke

"Happiness is not spontaneous combustion, one must oneself on fire."

Sports nut and anything outrageous. One Monday night I was playing soccer for a club in PTA, during the game I was accidentally kicked in my nether regions.Three days later the numb pain had not gone away, I went to see my GP though they thought it was just a contusion from the kick.But to be on the safe side I was referred to the radiologist where it was picked up my right testes looked like a honeycomb. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

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I have always been a healthy individual try to avoid processed foods as much as possible, train 4 times a week plus cricket and soccer.General first reaction was what happened?, I live a healthy lifestyle.

Since then I have skydived, taken up snowboarding ( when it snows in Lesotho ), made more time for family it brought about a revaluation of what’s important. As men we are prone to not engage in regards to these matters, testicular cancer is a emasculating position for men as psychologically we begin to feel inferior, damaged goods.

If detected early there is little to no change to your lifestyle. I make a point of it to urge as many people, male and female to take up fumble Fridays and check themselves weekly.

Fransien Fick

It is easier to deal with situations through humour. Every survival kit should include a sense of humour.

I was 29 when I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 1999. I lived an active healthy lifestyle without smoking or drinking. I discovered an uncomfortable sore lump in my arm pit which I at first brushed off and thought it was just a swollen gland.

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It became difficult to sleep on my side and decided to see my GP. He sent me to have the lump removed after he did a biopsy. When the test results came back; I was told that I have breast cancer and immediate arrangements was made for a mastectomy. I received my treatment at the National hospital’s Cancer Clinic in Bloemfontein and I was very lucky to have an amazing Oncologist. She and her team gave me the best treatment I could ever imagine. 6 months of chemo therapy and radiation. I moved to Cape Town in 2000 but continued going back to Bloemfontein for my check-ups.

After being in remission from 2000-2013; I experienced severe stomach ache. I was advised by my GP to see a Gynaecologist. The decision was made to have my ovaries removed as they were more than half the size they should be. Once the pathology tests results came back, I was told that I have stage 3 Ovarian cancer. Arrangements was made for me to receive my treatment at Arum Place at Vergelegen Hospital in 2013. I was once again very lucky to have a fantastic chemotherapy team and Oncologist. I developed an allergic reaction during my 1st chemo-session which caused some major havoc for the day. We had to continue with only half of the prescribed chemo dose for 6 months. I just had to add some humour after that incident and requested a “special cocktail mix” for the next session. I have received humorous notes regarding my chemo-mixes every 3rd week.

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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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!

Maria Joubert

"So plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.” - Jorge Luis Borges

I was diagnosed with Cancer when I was 7 years old, and I started undergoing Chemo almost straight away. Eventually my right leg was amputated in the hip shortly after my 9th birthday.

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Growing up “disabled” was not always easy, but I do not let life’s small things get to me. I have been told by many people that they have never met anyone who laughs as much as I do – which has been a huge compliment!

I am now 35 and have two beautiful children. I am permanently on crutches, do not use a prosthetic leg (I have had about 8 over the years!) and I don’t see myself as disabled. In fact, my kids didn’t even realize that their Mommy was “different” until they went to nursery and the other kids asked them why their Mommy only has one leg!

I am an energetic adrenaline junky who wants to make a difference. I am a survivor!

Marlene Nortjé

"... when purpose and passion collides ... magic happens."

In October 2012, a year after my divorce - almost to the date - I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. Two cysts were detected, but deeper down, two tumours were discovered. I named them my two TUTORS.

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After a lumpectomy and 30 sessions of radiation, I still have to take medication for another three years. But my prognosis was good, and I know this is part of my purpose.

This was by no means an easy year for me – I was a single woman, I have my own business, and as any cancer patient will tell you, I had to cope with tiredness and other physical symptoms. I had been on a transformational and spiritual journey for three years prior to this life-changing diagnosis, but life happens in the meantime. My cancer journey turned out to be a year in which I connected with my mind, body and spirit again.

This year, I have all my energy and vitality back. I am making a point of living cleaner and greener. I know that I am fortunate, and I am ready to make a difference, celebrating how passion and purpose allows me to be a tool on the journey of Cancervive.

Naniki “Nikki. S” 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 , 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.

Sully Motsweni

Early detection saves lives!.

I am Sully Motsweni. I rise from the dusty streets of Daveyton, a township in Ekurhuleni. I am a proud mother, daughter, a sister and recently an aunt. My love for speed, fast cars and motorcycles made me fully express the tomboy in me, and I am free spirited. The love of pushing limits made me take up biking against my family’s’ approval, I proved them right when I had an accident while riding (pregnant)! When my daughter was born later in 2008, many thought I will sell my bike and find another adrenaline outlet but I still ride today.

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Every year on my Birthday I would go for a routine health check - this was a way of gifting myself with a clean bill of health. In May 2013 as per norm I went for my routine Pap smear, but to my shock the Gynaecologist informed me that I had stage 2 cancer of the Cervix. Within 6 weeks of my diagnosis I had a hysterectomy which was followed by a strong treatment of 25 Chemo and Radio Therapy sessions.

Cancer is fearful, dreadful, and draining (physically, emotionally, and mentally) and my 6 monthly check ups are a constant mental battle. However, I’m convinced that had I not detect it timeously I would not have survived.