HARARE, ZIMBABWE– Princess Taderera (35) says she has found purpose through her breast cancer ordeal. We share her story in honour of #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth.
It’s been almost a year since Princess Taderera’s world took an unexpected turn. A month ago, Taderera shaved off peeking strands of hair to embrace what has become her new identity-a breast cancer survivor. A hairdresser by profession, hair has always been a mark of beauty, women flock to her salon and walk out feeling confident with their extended tresses. In her case, lack of it is now symbolic of beauty that is skin deep.
“I’ve learnt that there’s more to life..,” she says.
Breast cancer had always been a distant tale for Taderera, her side of the family did not have a history of cancer so when a relative on her husband’s side of the family was diagnosed in early 2017, the reality hit home. In the aftermath of the relative’s diagnosis, Taderera could not shake the lingering fear that she would meet a similar fate.
“.. I just started checking myself almost every day. We never used to have a big mirror in my bedroom, then my husband put this big mirror in my bedroom,” explains Taderera.
One morning that October, Taderera noticed something peculiar as she looked in the mirror.
“..I noticed [on] my right side, there was a funny dimple.. I would feel the lump here and there, it would come, it would disappear, the whole month of October,” she says.
Taderera went on to research her discovery.
“When I saw the dimple, I started researching more and more on the internet. It [the internet].. told me that if you’ve got a dimple, it’s a sign of a cancer lump..I kept telling myself, ‘I need to go to the cancer centre’,” ”Taderera says.
On the 31st of October, she finally took the trip.
“The lady who did the examination was a client of mine and she just said go to this guy, he does ultrasounds,..[she said] don’t go tomorrow, go today, I think she already knew,” explains Taderera.
After the ultrasound, a 3cm lump was discovered in her right breast and Taderera was sent for a biopsy to confirm if the lump was cancerous. 3 long days later, it was confirmed to be cancerous and the doctors immediately told Taderera that she would have to undergo surgery.
“I said can you please cut the lump only, then he [the doctor] said no,.. you’re still 34, you’re a very young mother, I’d suggest we cut the whole breast tissue..,” she says
Taderera was referred to Parirenyatwa hospital, where she was placed on a waiting list and waited anxiously for two weeks.
“I was worried about the cancer spreading,” she says.
After what appeared to be a never-ending wait, Taderera was finally operated on.
“..I just remember the anesthetist talking to me asking, what’s your name, how old are you the next thing I woke up, I was already done”
Taderera did not feel any pain immediately after the surgery but soon began her road to recovery, which included 8 chemotherapy sessions three weeks apart and subsequent radiotherapy.
Her husband Saul Imbayago was with Taderera throughout the ordeal and continues to support her. Whilst she was in hospital, he encouraged their young daughters aged 12 and 3.
“I would go and visit her every day in hospital and had to explain to the older one that mama is sick and the little one would ask when is mom coming back? It was difficult,” Imbayago says.
Now that the worst is over, he remains hopeful.
“I was happy that it was diagnosed at an early stage. Now that she’s doing the last process I am very relieved. People encourage us by telling us how they have lived 14 or 15 years after radiotherapy, ” he says.
Taderera successfully completed her chemotherapy and is now undergoing the last few radiotherapy sessions. She says she has found purpose through the experience and has made it a mission to tell women to get regular checks for breast cancer.
“My doctor asked me, what job do you do and I said I’m a hairdresser, and she said maybe it happened for a reason because you work with a lot of women, she said tell every woman that you know,”.
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