As you might know, October is breast cancer awareness month, and we could think of nobody better to speak to than cancer warrior, Catarina Ribeiro.
Like most young people, Catarina said she never bothered with going for checks as she thought her youth counted in her favour.
“I was 31 and never checked myself, I thought I was too young,” Catarina confessed.
Catarina’s discovery started in February of this year when she was in hospital to have her appendix removed.
“I was chatting to my aunt and then felt it, I found the lump. I didn’t panic because I was breast feeding my son and thought the lump was a result of that. Being very two minded, I did the test.
After three days, Catarina was diagnosed with breast cancer, to make matters worse, she discovered that it had been there for six years already.
“Who in their 20’s checks themselves? I thought this was for people over 40,” she exclaimed.
Since then, Catarina has spent the last six months on chemotherapy. During this time period she has been on two kinds of chemo. One, called the Red Devil which she has received four doses of. Catarina describes how agonising this treatment was as she explained how her hair fell out as well as her eyebrows and eyelashes. After a treatment she would prefer to lay in bed as her body hurt. Other repercussions of undergoing chemotherapy is a poor memory, Catarina advised.
When dealing with something as life threatening as cancer, one has to deal with more than just the disease itself. One of the precautions Catarina took was to stay away from negative people. One of the things that kept her going was her children.
“My children grounded me. You have to do it for them, you can’t give up. You don’t want them to see you down,” she said.
Other precautions Catarina is taking is to eat healthy and soon she will be exercising a minimum of three times a week.
The good news is, soon Catarina will be having her last chemo session and will look forward to living a more normal life. With that being said, she said that this whole experience has changed her whole outlook on life.
“You live everyday to the fullest, petty things don’t bother you. You realise how materialistic the world is. I have come to realise that your health is all that matters. You don’t even know if you will be here tomorrow. I used to plan my life six months in advance before,” she said.
Another positive spin is that Catarina is looking at helping others who are going through the same thing, especially paediatric cancer. She believes it’s important to spend time with these children.
She also advises anyone, male or female to have themselves checked. Catarina has recommended a place called Apffelstaedt and Associates which can be reached on 021 930 2662, you can also drop them a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org .