Health and Lifestyle

Surviving Breast Cancer at 17

Velisa Sishuba, Breast Cancer Survivor

19 October 2016

2 words, 12 letters, 1 reaction when told that you are diagnosed with the dreaded C word. Shock. We go down the mental list formulating a criteria which makes one susceptible to cancer: I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, no, no, no. Why is this happening to me, what is happening to me? Well when I, Velisa Sishuba, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 at 17 years old, the question I asked myself wasn’t only what or why is this happening to me, it was also how is this happening to me?!

I too, like so many other woman, went down the list and thought I didn’t smoke, drink or party I hardly spend 10 minutes outside my backyard without hissing like a vampire afraid of the light yelling, ” The sun, its burns!” So how is this happening to me. I am a simple girl with extravagent dreams, who loves to play the piano, dance and get lost in the dream world of books. Here I am, a young woman who is beginnin to embark on the next phase of my life, matric and university then is suddenly diagnosed with a rare cancer called an angiosarcoma which is a cancer of the inner lining of blood vessels and it can occur in any area of the body. So the cancer can grow anywhere however mine luckily grew in my breast. All of this was going on whilst I was in the middle of writing November exama and being blatantly told that I need surgery, a surgeon, a plastic surgeon etc. Again I’m thinking a plastic surgeon I felt like I was going to be on an episode of Botched, “like what?”

dreams of a breast cancer survivor
dreams of a breast cancer survivor

I was devastated, completely guttered because 3 months prior to a final answer. In late August/ early September I had felt a lump in my left breast had told my mom about it, and went to the GP who said it vould be caused by my developing body or my period and so on. Well,well, well 3 months pass by in which time many biopsies and tests were done all of which gave no clarity to the situation then all of a sudden BOOM! Not only is it cancer,but its rare and it can grow anywhere but it happend to latch onto my breast,a gift from God really cause had it grown on my arm or leg it would have had to have been amputated. But after missing the last week of school and going through tests( again) 4 operations later with a mastectomy and a muscle removed from my back to use in my breast. I’m cancer free, new set of sexier,firmer breasts and a new nipple while im at it. Wait there is more. Going through all of this in my matric year, and for 3-4 months with one breast already operated on and the other still needing work done so I had to use a fake prosthetic to look symmetrical. School was brutal, my back and breast in constant pain, insensitve people and alot of elbowing my breast( people bump your boobs alot more than i thought they did). You couldn’t cry to much, you couldn’t go home for every time you felt pain. It was hard. How did I do it. GOD. He helped me by giving me an amazing family,fun- loving friends and love and strength to overcome this and I did 🙂 because amidst all the fear, tears and anxiety God taught me things beyond the circumstance. And isn’t that always the case. You go through things that make the pain seem longer, the days go darker and your hope fades away. But even the darkest of nights has the beautiful stars to brighten the moonlight sky. I’m very lucky to have had cancer have the opposite effect in my life. It bought my family closer instead of tearing it apart, it gave me strength when it tried to weaken me, although sometimes it did. It gave me the energy to fight when each day it demanded that I stay down when it had the upper hand. Cancer lost. Dismally I may add.

hope vs despair when surviving breast cancer

At any age ladies and yes gentleman too that beating cancer is the biggest accomplishment is an achievment that no Olympic medal or money could buy is an understatment. Because we have been given life, the best gift of all and to say thanks to God we give thanks to Him by living in the present and treating it as such. I won’t lie, i still have my tears, my woes and blows. But I remind myself to smile, laugh and live.

Dear ladies and gents. As survivors of the disease, a member of a loved one who unfortunatly didn’t make it or as a mere spectator who loves pink and has a passion to help and inspire woman in this cause. Let us: support, educate and love one another. Cancer can be beaten but even the strongest soldier needs and army. We must help each other because we are all we have. You dont have to say anything, asking someone how you can help them , a ride home from chemo, even a hug will do. And chocolate never hurt anybody(just saying). God is for US and is never against us and if He is for us who cares who or what against you. Cry when you want to cry,  never let the ignorance of the world cripple you. You can’t judge people on what they don’t know and even if they do, no-one gets it no-one will really get you and thats ok. Only you and God really know what your, truly, going through thats all who needs to know and really get it trust me you will never have a peace of mind if your going to put your level of comfort and understanding in people, even if it is your family. No matter how supportive they may be. They will say one wrong thing definately at the wrong time and thats all it takes to put you in a negative state of mind.

Remember, to the survivors out there. Just because you  are a survivor doesn’t mean you won’t still be a crier. Your strong, brave, kind, loving, a fighter, an advisor, a mother and a provider. Why cause your a breast cancer survivor.

My name is Velisa Sishuba, I am 19 years old and was diagnosed with a rare cancer called an angiosarcoma, which is a cancer of the inner lining of the blood vessels. This cancer can grow anywhere in your body but in my case the cancer latched onto my breast. I was 17 years old at the time of diagnosis and had undergone 4 surgeries in which I had a mastectomy and nipple reconstruction done. I was lucky to not have had to undergo chemo or radiation and now i go for monthly checkups. I am currently taking a gap year in which I took time off to do my final surgery and take some time for myself in hopes to study occupational therapy in 2017. I love dancing, reading, music and the creative arts.

Want to know when new articles are published?
Subscribe to our Newsletter.