“I remember feeling like ‘this is a really bad dream that I had to wake up from’. I didn’t anticipate that this is my reality.”
Jacqueline Masalla, who is a breast cancer and GBV survivor, mentions that she felt so unsure after the diagnosis of breast cancer was made.
“I went for a pelvic ultrasound and decided to get a hysterectomy. However before this, I already detected a lump in my breast but decided to keep this to myself.”
Jacqueline went for a mammogram but still, nothing was detected. “I like to think of it as the Holy Spirit warning me that something is wrong.”
Her surgeon then confirmed that she does indeed have breast cancer and that it is developing aggressively.
“Being a survivor of gender-based violence and now having to tackle breast cancer constantly made me feel like I was not in control of my own body at all.”
Jaqueline says it took her years to realise how she was still very lucky during those terrible times.
“My husband asked the doctor when I’ll have surgery to remove the cysts and I will never forget the doctor saying it needed to be done as soon as possible.”
Although her surgeon was fully booked, he chose to place her first in line for surgery. “Even though it seemed dire at that time, I realised that I was granted a second chance in life by having the surgery so rapidly.”
Jacqueline, who is not only an author but also a customer service administrator at Woolworths, mentions that her employers were very supportive during her trials and tribulations.
When she broke the news to her immediate family members, they grew quiet. The day her husband cut her hair was one of the most emotional days of her entire being.
“Nothing was as hurtful like the first time I saw myself after the removal of the left breast. I felt as if I was less of a woman. I felt worthless and inadequate of being loved. “
However her support structure and journaling her feelings helped her overcome these emotions.
“No matter which season you find yourself in during your battle against cancer: don’t give up and talk to someone. It also helps a lot to be honest with your family.”
Text: ABIGAIL VISAGIE