Location: Kimberly, South Africa

Cancerversary: November 2021

Age at diagnosis: 35

Diagnosis: Squamous cell carcinoma

Stage of cancer: IV

How my story begins: In 2018 I was having stomach pain after each meal, and I had gained 15kg in six months. After a medical consultation, the GP prescribed diet pills and said I should look at my diet. Very discouraged, I left as I was healthy, exercising and following a low carb diet. I coped with the pain I had for three years then after consulting a female GP at my employers' clinic, I was sent for an ultrasound in January 2021, and there after my whole world changed.

Life before my diagnosis: I was a healthy, active wife and mother.

How I felt after diagnosis: I was in great disbelieve that this was happening to me. I have two young girls and every thought and feeling related to this diagnosis was so unreal.

Telling my family and friends: After a second opinion, we told our girls what was happening and that I will need to start chemo treatments. We explained what will happen during treatment but
we did not explain to them the staging, as that was just too much information.

My treatment: I started Caboplatin and Paxlitaxol in March 2021. I ended treatment in June 2021 and then received Cisplatin and radiation in September 2021.

How I felt after treatment: It was so hard doing treatment, but each treatment was a step closer to clear myself of this cancer.

What was most difficult for me: Going through all this heartache and stress as a family.

What I did to help myself: I set daily goals for myself to achieve. I started building puzzles to keep my mind busy too.

My life after cancer: I returned to work in November 2021 and I was so proud of myself. My life was almost back to normal!

Where I am today: I did more treatment again in February 2022 because at my check up my lymph nodes showed growth again.

What I want other women to know: You don't have to feel ashamed to ask for help. Listen to your body and advocate for yourself. You know your body, a healthcare provider is only human and they can make mistakes.

How I will try to help others: You need to listen to your body and advocate for yourself.