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React fast –beat cancer

As happens every year, Breast Cancer Awareness Month was rounded off with a special event that took place at Sister Pharo’s Clinic in Atlantis.

Sr Olivia Pharo, a former nurse in public health who opened her own health-care facility using her pension fund, uses this month to educate the community on the causes and treatment of breast cancer.

Guest speaker at this year’s round-off was health worker and breast cancer survivor Helenita Maarman, who said after chemotherapy it can take years before one feels healthy again, and a weakened immune system is a side-effect of chemo and radiation.

But an important frame of reference for Pharo is the ambassador for breast cancer Portia Isaacs (43), who aims to motivate local women, and especially women at her workplace, Braitex, through speaking of her experience with triple-negative breast cancer.

Diagnosed three years ago, a week after she turned 40, she points out that the aggressive cancer was not fuelled by the oestrogen hormone nor by progesterone, nor was it caused by the HER2 protein.

“This kind of breast cancer is not treated with hormonal therapy, but it can be cured effectively,” Isaacs pointed out. “I reacted very quickly when a lump was discovered in my left breast and I was diagnosed with stage-2 cancer.”

The rapid response very soon led to chemotherapy.

“I lost all my hair and had a double mastectomy because of my family history of cancer. Through unwavering faith and the support of my husband, family and friends I conquered it.” This brave survivor underwent reconstructive surgery on her breast, and is in remission.

“I dedicated my time as an ambassador to create awareness of breast cancer,” she says, “and I am motivating women and men in my factory to be vigilant and to act fast.”

Isaacs hopes to touch the lives of many people still, and to be a source of motivation to those who have the disease.

“Cancer can be beaten with a positive mindset, and God by your side,” she declared.

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