On a serious note


I hate putting something this personal out here and I am going to keep posts of this nature to a minimum but a recent series of events drove me over the edge and I think I have to put a stop to this - for my own sanity. Tough times are lying ahead and I thought I would like to share some vital information with you BEFORE you run off to phone me…so please read this with an open heart, and read EVERY WORD because I’m not saying this to anyone EVER again.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in my life late September this year. Yes, while I was 26 weeks pregnant. Yes, it is really a shit-storm. We had to make a few crucial choices which I will explain and I ask you all not to judge.

Firstly, I didn’t tell a lot of people because the various emotional reactions I received with the first cancer diagnosis were too much to bear. So freak out all you want because I didn’t tell you personally and then get over yourself because right now my saneness and survival matters much more than your hysterical tears and feelings.

The details of the cancer are as follows: The lump was 12mm in diameter, in the left breast this time. This is a Grade II Stage II Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. They also found traces of Ductal Carcinoma In Situ, which is essentially and unofficially a Grade 0 cancer but it is the start of the invasive type. Please Google all these terms.

My treatment plan will be as follows: I already had a lumpectomy (use our friend Google again please) The baby survived the procedure and also didn’t decide to come early, which I am very thankful for. The next step will be to have the baby. He will be coming into this world on the 17th of December with an Elective Cesarean (more about this later, so put your judging cards away for now please). Six weeks after the delivery I will have a double mastectomy. Expanders will be put in place but no reconstruction will be done till after the chemo, which starts 6 weeks after the mastectomy. After the chemo, reconstruction will start by slowly filling the expanders. This will take at least 6 months, after which I will have exchange surgery.

I will be flat chested for some time. I will not be able to breastfeed (which I am extremely sad about but it won’t change anything). My hair will fall out because of the chemo and I will be wearing a wig. I will also care for my newborn during that time. I will not be able to harvest my eggs for more children so this will be the only one we will have. My ovaries will also be removed at some point or the other. I’m not Superwoman and I heavily depend on my husband, some friends and our families.

Here are a few things that you should know:
  1.  Please don’t send me for religious healing or cleansing or exorcism or anything similar. Been there, done that. It was very traumatic the first time. I believe in Western medicine, research and science. I believe God put a very competent team of doctors and caregivers on my path.
  2. Please don’t tell me that I could die in a car accident right now. I don’t know why you guys do it all the time. I’m very aware of this and I’m very thankful for every second that I’m alive. Telling me (or any cancer patient for that matter) this will not change the fact that I’m shit-scared of this lethal and disfiguring disease.
  3. Please do not bully me into taking any alternative medicine. It will interfere with my treatment (see point 1). If you don’t trust my doctors, it’s your problem.
  4. I chose an Elective Cesarean for the birth of our son. It will be the predictable option, since I really don’t trust my body right now. I know all the pros and cons of this. This is my body and my choice and I really, really do not need to explain myself any further.
  5. Cancer is not a pink ribbon, or a walk, or a race, or a head-shaving exercise. Like I said, it is a lethal and disfiguring disease. I loathe it when people say that they are doing a walk to end cancer. WTF? You must have some magical shoes then.
  6. Cancer will not define me. It will make me look damn ugly for a certain amount of time and the treatment will make me feel like I’m dying but it won’t drop my IQ by 50 points, it won’t change my personality and it won’t consume every second of my being. So please respect the fact that I do not always want to talk about this.
  7. I’ve done the research. Harvesting my eggs will not be a viable option. The time and space between the birth and treatment will be too short and the chemo will fry most of the eggs I have left. Believe me, I tried fighting this and figuring this out. Fact: it will be very dangerous for me to get pregnant again. So, although YOU didn’t – I accepted the fact that we will probably have only one child and the only other option to extend our family will be adoption.
  8. My phone-phobia did not go away. In fact, I find long conversations and all sorts of questions and cry sessions extremely tiring and emotionally draining right now. If I don’t answer my phone it doesn’t mean I’m angry or want to avoid you, I just want to preserve the last bit of sanity I have left. I know most of you are praying for me and I appreciate it, I just don’t want to hear it all the time.
  9.  Please don’t tell me to stay positive. I’m very positive. I’ve been through this once before. I will go through this all again for my child and my husband. Some days will be better than others but please, bear with me if the tears just come. I’m human.
  10. Did I say I hate the pink ribbons? See point 5 if it is still unclear.
  11. There is no cure for cancer. Chemo will prolong your life (after almost killing you) and maybe surgery will cut every bad cell out. But telling me your aunt was cured from cancer by eating 10 000 asparagus a day and that I should too will only ruin our friendship. Right now I’m doing the best I can to get healthy again and I really don’t want to listen to every home-remedy for cancer you have in your library.
  12.  Don’t tell me you know exactly how I feel. You don’t. Unless you had cancer twice- once while you were pregnant. I am scared shitless, I am angry, I am fragile and I am jealous of everyone with a normal, healthy life. That’s just scratching the surface.
Thank you for reading this. It really took a lot to put this out here. I want you to understand what is happening. I want you to look at all of the facts and not judge or go into some type of hysteria. I appreciate all my supportive friends and family and I love you deeply. I will fight this with every cell I have left in my body. Please accept my destiny and my treatment plans as I have already done so.


  1. Yeah baby, you tell them how it is !

  2. Ek was nie seker jy kan nog meer styg in my estimasie nie, maar jy het pas.

  3. Beste Riette, jy ken my nie - ek is bevriend met Anjo-Marie Gouws, en het hierdie woorde via facebook gelees. Baie, baie dankie hiervoor. Ek het saam met iemand baie naby aan my deur sewe jaar van kanker gegaan, en alles wat jy hier noem het met hom gebeur: al die slegte advies, platitudes, oordeel, sinneloosheid, trane wat niemand help nie. Jou woorde is vol krag, wat my laat glo die skrywer is net so kragtig. Ek sal aan jou dink.

  4. Dear Riette,

    I am a new reader, and fellow South African (although I am currently in South Korea teaching with my hubby). I don't know you from a bar of soap, and yet I feel if we ever met we would be great friends. All that I have picked up fro this post. So I just wanted to leave you a comment and tell you I will be thinking of you, and quietly following along here on your blog. With love, Roxy x

  5. Jy is 'n amazing mens! Sterkte skattebol!