CANSA Relay For Life

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Marlene Pretorius: GHOH (Survivor) “By helping others, I believe you heal”

Marlene Pretorius: Global Hero of Hope (Survivor)

“By helping others, I believe you heal”

I was diagnosed in November 2018, underwent a double mastectomy in December 2018, and have had six operations since. It’s been a very long road, as I considered chemotherapy, but thought that a bilateral mastectomy will do the trick. I had an aesthetic flat closure in October 2021 because I developed cysts and painful scar tissue that is not going away.

After the first two surgeries my skin did not want to heal, and then my body rejected the implants and they had to be removed. This was followed by the removal of my ovaries as we have such a high-risk family, and further reconstructive surgery.  Now in 2021 I once again must have everything removed. But I have been through this – and I will do it again.

I have been on Tamoxifen for the past 5 to 10 years, and the side-effects are terrible especially on my hair and nails, and that is why I decided to brave it and shave my hair (as it is a low dose chemo hormone inhibitor) I am nauseous daily, and face other challenges on the treatment – BUT! I AM ALIVE!

And I have an incredible story to share that I hope will help others, as I did not find my cancer the conventional way, on mammograms or ultrasounds, I did not feel a lump, it was only picked up on a breast MRI. There might be many women out there, that have cancer and have no idea.

My daughter Nakita Pretorius became my caregiver, although she was only in primary school when my journey started – I allowed her to be there with me every step of the way. I believe we must teach our kids from young to look after their health and to be there for others – and my journey taught her that. Today as a teenager she speaks out as a caregiver and her story inspires others.

My journey with CANSA Relay For Life started when I worked for CANSA about 5 years ago – since then I have moved to Mpumalanga. As a CANSA employee I was involved in events like CUPPA For CANSA, Shavathon, Amashova and Relay For Life – and as volunteer it is my pleasure to support the CANSA team to market their events and find sponsors and partners. CANSA staff and volunteers helped me to stay brave – they were there when I needed a shoulder to cry on and provided me the with the opportunity to become the shoulder for other brave survivors and caregivers to lean on. By helping others, I believe you heal, as we need to be reminded of people that we can relate to.

Relay For Life is a symbol of HOPE for so many people – we live in the most negative, destructive times, and why not honour those that survived, those who are still fighting, and those who unfortunately lost their battle to cancer. It brings unity, as well as make people aware of how many cancer patients there are out there, and that we need to rethink our way of living, we must help those in need.

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