Cancer survivors share stories

Fatima Meyer, 24, in the Intensive Care Unit at Groote Schuur Hospital.
Fatima Meyer and her husband, Igshaan Meyer, after being cured from the cancer.
Ntuthu Sonjica, 61, in her home .

Two former Groote Schuur Hospital patients have shared their stories of survival to give hope to newly diagnosed cancer patients.

International Cancer Survivors Day was marked last Wednesday, June 2.

The Ntuthu Sonjica, 61, and Fatima Meyer, 24, survived different types of cancer.

Ms Meyer, a Mitchell’s Plain resident, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019. She never suspected having cancer until 2018 when her stomach started to grow very fast.

“I went to a private doctor and I told him that I could feel there was something in my stomach then I did a pregnancy test and it came back negative. He felt my stomach and told me there is nothing to worry about and that it’s just a stomach reflux so he gave me acid tablets and I came home.

“The following day my daughter who was a year and a half at the time, asked me to dance with her and when I wanted to move my body from left to right, that’s when I felt a stabbing pain in my stomach and that’s when I told myself something is not right.”

Ms Meyer went to Groote Schuur hospital where they did some scans and spotted tumours growing in her stomach.

“I had ovarian cancer stage 4 then had to undergo chemotherapy. While doing my chemotherapy, my stomach started growing again so the tumours came back and were starting to feed on my chemotherapy so I had to stop it. In 2020, I then had to go for the biggest operation. My stomach was so big like I was carrying twins, I was swollen in my feet and legs, I could not walk and I had to sit in a wheelchair.”

Ms Meyer said the chemotherapy was not nice at all, it used to make her sick and she would vomit all the time. She still, however, encourages people to take the chemotherapy as it will help them.

“I would say that I am in best of health at the moment, I still do my appointments regularly, I don’t skip it and I am much better,” she said.

Another former patient, is Ms Sonjica, a registered nurse from Langa. In January 2019 she fell very ill and was diagnosed with lymphoma cancer, which affects the lymphatic system, a part of the body’s germ-fighting network.

She was admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital and stayed in the oncology ward for three months. While in hospital, one of the decisions she had to make was if she would allow chemotherapy.

“I did not want to get chemotherapy because I know it can either make me sick or it can make me healthy. I was totally against it. But the oncologist had a chat with me while my son was at the hospital and he advised me to take the chance so that I can still be there for my son. I then decided to take chemotherapy thanks to the advice from the doctor. When I look back, that is what saved my life,” she said.

Ms Sonjica had her chemotherapy and when she had her tests seven months later the cancer was gone.

Ms Sonjica is currently contributing to the Western Cape’s Covid-19 vaccination plan as a vaccinator in her community. She follows a healthy lifestyle, especially in terms of her eating habits and her family has no history of cancer.