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October 2020

What a Chemotion…

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What a Chemotion… by Babette Labuschagne.
The type of cancer I have can only be treated with chemotherapy. There is no other way… yet.
All I knew about chemo therapy was what I’ve seen in the movies.
Hair loss, weight loss, fatigue, nausea…
“Babette, are you getting the Red Devil?”
“You’re probably getting that red devil one.”
Red Devil? What is the Red Devil?
I always thought Chemo was just… you know… Chemo.
But it’s not… there are different types of chemo that treat different types of cancer… and with my luck… I got one of the worst ones… this Red Devil everyone kept telling me about and to add to my already worrying mind… remove weight loss as a side effect and please add weight gain, just to piss me off a little bit more, thank you.
4 Rounds Red Devil.
12 Rounds Taxol.
That was my treatment plan. 6 months.
This red thing is so bad, I had to get an operation where they implanted a chemo port under my collar bone because they don’t want my arteries to burn and collapse.
There is nowhere you can turn to when you hear you’re going to get chemo.
“I can’t say… everybody reacts differently”
And please don’t Dr Google! 🤦🏻‍♀️
Also, I found that in some support groups, people can just end up scaring you…
So you just have to live through it.
So there I was, in the middle of Level 5 lockdown, on my own, getting my first ever Red Devil. Crying… crying… crying.
I am sure the chemo nurse (whom I truly now see as one of my besties) thought I was a little overreacting.
For me chemo felt like a really bad hangover… like I drank everything from white wine to downing a bottle of Jägermeister. And yes, you also only realize you poisoned yourself the next morning.
My scalp really hurt… then…
My hair fell out. (ALL of it… More on that, later)
I was nauseous but I never got sick.
Loss of appetite.
Stomach cramps.
Weight Gain.
My body ached.
I was really tired.
My nails hurt and discolored a little.
My gums started bleeding once or twice.
I lost my period.
And oh my… those hot flushes. (I once had to run out of Dischem to Woolworths to go and stand next to the fridge)
My skin dried out.
I got a rash on my arm.
Muscle weakness.
Tired. Tired. Tired.
But oh yes, I will do it again. If I have to. Probably…

I didn’t sleep that night… the night I heard I have cancer…

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I didn’t sleep that night… the night I heard I have cancer… by Babette Labuschagne.
“Are they going to remove my breasts?” “Chemo???” “My hair is going to fall out, if I have options I don’t want Chemo” “What if they only remove one breast?”
I met with Dr Lucienne van Schalkwyk the day after my diagnosis. I immediately liked her and knew I was in great hands.
“Babette, the cancer you have can only be treated with Chemo”
“….” No…, my hair… am I going to lose my hair?
“After 6months of chemo we’ll have to do surgery”
“…..” my breasts… but I like my breasts…
“Both breasts? I don’t want one fake breast” “I don’t want fake breasts”
“I would recommend doing both breasts, like Angelina Jolie did, for prevention.”
“Yeah that’s probably better”
My anxiety would kill me day and night…
During treatment I’ve mourned my breasts every single day. I’ve never been a “fake” type of person.
Yes sure, I’ve had hair extensions, and I wear make up… but I’ve never felt I’ve needed botox or fillers… I’ve never felt the need for a “boob job”.
This diagnoses immediately robbed me from every single thing that made me feel feminine and sexy. I still cry about this every day.
I am a single woman… the worst thoughts I struggled with was “who would want someone with big scars on their breasts…?” Turns out, some really great guys don’t mind them at all!
And as I am typing this I have little hair, no eyebrows, no lashes and waiting for them to remove my breasts.
My hair will grow back, my eyebrows and lashes will grow in.
But my breasts… they’ll be gone forever… and fake.
I get angry when I read and hear people telling me it’s an “amputation” of my breasts. It’s such a harsh way to describe it. It hurts.
I felt this torn up about them until one of my friends told me this..
“Babette, your “fake boobs” will be the most authentic part of your body, because you fought the biggest fight to win them. They will be a sign that you’ve conquered something terrible.”
I now choose to see it this way.
I can’t even imagine what it must feel like not to have the option of reconstruction. To be left with nothing but scars. I applaud all the women living or choosing this. Please never feel ashamed of your scars, you got them because you’ve battled in war.

Being newly diagnosed with Breast Cancer was frightening and really really alone

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Being newly diagnosed with Breast Cancer was frightening and really really alone, by Babette Labuschagne.
I’ve known one other person who had breast cancer. He was a great friend of mine that was diagnosed at 18. I haven’t spoken to him in years, although I’ve held him close to my heart all this time. (Yes men can get breast cancer too)
I didn’t know who to turn to. What to expect. It felt really alone. I had support. I had my family and close friends, but none of them understood.
My doctor said: “Babette, I can tell you what the side effects are, I can tell you you’re going to lose your hair, you’re going to be nauseous, but I can’t tell you how this will make you feel. I can’t tell you what emotions you’re going to experience because I haven’t been through it”
So where could I turn? There aren’t a lot of women that speak about it that I’ve seen.
I found comfort in google. I searched “Celebrities with breast cancer” and I read their stories and what they are doing to help with awareness.
Here are a few celebs with breast cancer:
Kylie Minogue
Christina Applegate
Giuliana Rancic
Sheryl Crow
Cynthia Nixon
Olivia Newton John
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Carly Simon
Dame Maggie Smith
Suzanne Somers
Kathy Bates
Reading their stories gave me hope, but also made me realize that its not weird for me to have it. Kylie Minogue had breast cancer at 36! The same kind as me! And look how beautiful and strong she is today, 14 years later!!
It’s because of this search that I decided to speak out. To tell all of you how I am feeling and what I am experiencing.
There are a lot of us out there… you never have to feel alone.
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