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Denise Patmarie Reddy (Breast Cancer Survivor)

Denise Patmarie Reddy (Breast Cancer Survivor)

I live in South Africa. I am  a married woman of 56 years. I have two adult kids, my daughter Santana is 34 years old and I have a son by the name of Ashton Kaelin Reddy and he's 32, he's a married man now. And I became a grandmother last year and it's amazing because I never knew what the love for another child is besides your own but yes I am very very happy to be a grandmother.

The Diagnosis

It was september 2019, when I had flu symptoms that lasted for two months, and I couldn't understand why it was so persistent. So I went to the doctor and he said no it's just the flu, don't worry, just take the antibiotics and you'll be fine. When my son got married in september 2019, I really started feeling sick during the preparation of his wedding. I couldn't understand what this was all about. On the 29th of september I woke up about 3 o'clock in the morning and I felt a sharp pain across my left breast. I started examining myself and I felt a lump on my breast.

So anyway I went to the doctor the next morning and the next day I went to work and I spoke to my colleagues at work and explained them, they told me to go and check it up. Two days later I went to a doctor who did a mammogram and I could see on his face and his expression that he was not happy at all. I saw some concern on his face and he asked me can I do a biopsy for you so I said yes no problem. He looked at me and he said, Mrs. Reddy, I am  not happy with what I am seeing and he sent the sample to the laboratory and we'll take it from there.

The results came within a few days and I was at work. I can remember very well what a painful day it was. He called me and he said Mrs Reddy I need to speak to your doctor, so I said no you're not speaking to my doctor. He said, No, I have to, it's unethical for me to give you your results over the phone. so I said, please I have not come with a recommendation from any doctor to you and I'd like to have my results.

He revealed, I have some bad news that you have vivacious carcinoma on your left breast. Can you please come and see me straight away? I  was very shocked and I couldn't digest what I was hearing. I ran out of my office, I went to my manager and I started crying and telling her this is the story. I've just been diagnosed with cancer with a vivacious carcinoma and I don't know what to do. They told me okay go back to the doctor, go and get your results, go home, relax and we'll take it from the next day. While driving from work to the doctor it was daunting, it was excruciating, I could not concentrate, I didn't know where I was driving to. Eventually I got to the doctor, he gave me the results and he told me I need to go and see a breast cancer specialist.

When I got home, I did not tell anybody about the results in my family. I drove straight to the cancer association, Indonesia and I told the doctor this is the story and can you please tell me what to do and she told me well your hair is going to fall out you're going to have the red devil chemotherapy which is absolutely toxic to your body body and you're not going to feel well all the time but you will feel better after your treatments are over and I didn't want to listen to all the things I just it was too much I came home I lied on a bed and cried and cried and cried and my husband came home that evening he's asking me why are you lying on the bed are you okay and I explained him no this is the story I have cancer and I felt like it was a death sentence immediately I was so scared I was so confused I was so nervous 

She looked at my results and she asked me to go for an MRI. Because she needed to determine if there was more cancer in the body. Yes, I had cancer in the right breast which was called a lobular and I had cancer in the lymph nodes which was underneath the arms and the lobular cancer could have been there for 10 years. So, I had to go for more biopsies and they had to put in titanium markers to show where the cancer was. 

The Treatment

From there the treatment started immediately. I had to go and remove my lymph nodes which was the first operation. After removing the lymph nodes I had to go in for a port. A medical portal is where they would give the chemo from. After two weeks I started losing my hair, my eyebrows my eyelashes; All my hair just came off. I looked like someone who came out of a horror movie I would say. Today I can sit back and look and laugh; we used to joke around because my husband also doesn't have hair on his head, so the two of us used to laugh and say oh you know I wish there's a horror movie where we can go in and take part in. Chemo, I had a surgery which was a double mastectomy which I think it was on the 23rd of july last year and they removed both my breasts and put in silicone implants and because there was no fatty tissue to use from any part of my other my body because I had lost a lot of weight. I had the double mastectomy and did 36 cycles of radiation.

After radiation I continued with herceptin until april 2021 and since april I've been in remission. It's another journey all together in remission because now you don't know how to step back into society. You don't know what to expect and you feel like you've been in prison for two or three years. 

A message to other cancer patients

It's not the end of the world; there is hope out there; there is life out there. You have to dig deep down inside you and find that life. You have to go back to how you were. You will feel that there are days that you will be down but you won't be down forever; today you are down but tomorrow you might be up; so take one day at a time.

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