As long as there is life there is hope, says Elizabeth Cupido, who, at 88, has been in remission from cancer for the past 25 years.
Elizabeth, of Manenberg, was in her early 60s when she noticed a red mark under her right breast. She ignored it until she felt a large lump in the same spot a few weeks later.
Her GP referred her to Groote Schuur Hospital for a mammogram and she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. That same month, she had her right breast removed.
She had six weeks of radiotherapy, which, she says, left her body feeling lame and she couldn’t hold a teaspoon.
“When I was diagnosed, I felt shocked, upset and sad. I felt that I should’ve gone to get checked out sooner. My daughter and granddaughter took care of me, and I did what I could for myself. I didn’t tell anyone else as I felt that was my burden to bear alone, but I regretted it as I should’ve let them support me. My family and friends only found out after the operation, and they supported me so much.”
Elizabeth took Tamoxifen tablets for five years until she was declared cancer free.
She has been a member of the Reach for Recovery support group for 25 years now and says she loves giving hope to others.
Some days are hard, she says, because not every patient wants her support as they are still battling to accept their diagnosis.
“Cancer is a delicate thing; some feel that it is a private matter, and they are also upset and in shock so it’s difficult to speak to the next person about it, and that’s hard to hear sometimes. I share my journey with patients, and it gives them hope and makes them realise that it is not the end of the world. There is life after cancer.”
Prayer and hope, she says, helped her during her struggle with cancer.
She advises women to check their breasts regularly and not to delay if they find an abnormality.
“Let your family and friends help you, don’t push away those closest to you. Sometimes you look for someone to blame, but it’s no one’s fault, I don’t even have a family history of cancer. Never lose hope. As long as there is life, there is hope. Look forward to your your treatment sessions because it will help heal you.”