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Rachel Inspires After Double Mastectomy

Rachel Pillay

Rachel Pillay

Rachel Pillay, a mother of three girls was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002 at the age of 52. She felt devastated and was overwhelmed by thoughts of death, as she feared the unknown road before her. She was told that she had stage 2 cancer and had to undergo a mastectomy. It shocked her that her right breast was now just a piece of skin covered in stitches.

After her 10th annual check-up at Frere Hospital, Oncology Breast Clinic in 2012, she was astonished to learn that the cancer had returned to her left breast. As a retired Staff Nurse, her concern was not being able to take care of herself long-term.

This time, the news regarding her diagnosis didn’t affect her as before. She knew The Almighty had come through for her before and that He would do so again.

She had surgery for the second time and  it was established that she had stage 3 cancer and all 4 glands were removed. She also experienced chemotherapy and radiation for the first time and all the side effects that came along with it. Her treatment ended in November 2012.

During her battle against breast cancer, Rachel received support from family and friends, as well as the local cancer support group. Her eldest 2 daughters flew in from Johannesburg to be at her side, while her youngest daughter dedicated herself to the Phakamisa Health Initiative Project. For the past year Rachel has been an orator, educating and empowering the community about breast cancer awareness.

Rachel had no family history of cancer and did not a smoke, but had to fight breast cancer twice in her lifetime. She says that she is now more aware of the factors that contribute towards cancer, understanding who is at risk for cancer, what the warning signs of cancer are and what treatment entails. She has a positive attitude and outlook and she now hopes to live her life to the full.

Rachel has found mingling with other survivors elevating and inspiring. Even though she lost both breasts, she is content. Fortitude and courage has taught her to have a greater understanding and appreciation of life, even when it seems to lose momentum!

She is inspired by John C. Maxwell: ‘Forget what hurt you, never forget what it taught you’. Her message to newly diagnosed patients is that there’s always hope – do not give in, do not give up, you will make it… You are more than a conqueror!

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