CANCER DOES NOT HAVE TO DICTATE HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE

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By: Vuyolwethu Nzolongwane

Mother and founder of a non-profit organisation, Helping those in Need, Marion Peake is a cancer survivor and believer that life is what you make of it and that one should live without any regrets but instead should appreciate every moment that life has to offer. At the age of 33 years, four days after her daughter’s second birthday celebration, Peake was diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a double mastectomy two weeks later.

“The two weeks passed so fast and I thanked God that I could celebrate my baby turning two but I suffered from anxiety, depression, fear and heartache as I watched my family gather for what could have been our last moments together,” said Peake.

At the time, she was not part of any support group but she found comfort and strength from her family, friends, church as well as the Cancer Association.

“The type of cancer that I was diagnosed with has a high recurrence rate. The mammogram showed that my right breast had a 7.7x5mm lump and my left breast had 3x3cm and growing which meant my left breast had to be removed immediately. I chose to have both breasts removed instead of another surgery at a later stage as well as to avoid constant worry since breast cancer has a tendency of spreading to the other breast over time and I did not want to risk my life,” said Peake.

Along with running her NPO that caters for the less fortunate in East London, she had been nominated for the Business Women Awards and that was enough to keep her busy during her chemotherapy sessions which she had to undergo a month from the date of the double mastectomy.

During her recovery process, what kept her spirits up and motivated her to continue living her life as well as strength was her desire to help others. Peake and her husband decided to take in abused and abandoned children and give them a home while she was focusing on her recovery.

“I felt a void in my life so my husband and I decided to give abused and abandoned children a home, while I had to stay at home. It was the best decision as it encouraged me to be strong, get up daily, prepare a cooked meal, as well as focus on family time. It gave me a stronger will to fight to help more children needing a mom and dad. Cancer brought me many challenges but the good outweighs everything,” she said.

The surgery took a huge toll on Peake’s emotional wellbeing and she battled with depression, anxiety and weight gain. She said she then decided that it was time for positive change and she started eating healthier, joined a gym and has since lost 36kgs and is currently helping those who find themselves on a similar journey as hers.

“I had no confidence at all as if being a complete woman wasn’t me anymore, but what makes you a complete woman? We are all facing different struggles in our lives, leaving scars behind, some physical, others emotional,” said Peake.

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