Family of survivors and family of love!

Today I am celebrating my beautiful mom and sisters who all are breast cancer survivors!

As a child we never really fully understand what our parents go through.  In my child-eyes everything around me was always happy and colourful.  We had the happiest best ever childhood.  Yes, there were sibling fights, but we truly loved and still love each other to this day.  I have a family who will walk to the end of the world for one another.  We were brought up with strong morals and a great believe in God and I love and appreciate that our parents brought us up that way 🙂

I must have been around 10 when mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  But at that age I did not really understand cancer and what it was all about.  To me, mom was going into hospital for an operation, nothing out of the ordinary.  We weren’t/aren’t really a family who got/get sick a lot, so doctor visits were not really a regular thing for us.  For me, this cancer thing did not mean much at that stage.  I knew mom obviously was sick since the doctor said she was sick, but in my eyes she was healthy and looked like she did any other day.  My thoughts … she has no runny nose or headaches or fevers so she would probably be back home within a day or 2.  For me, life as I knew it continued.  I can’t actually remember a lot of what my parents told us about this situation mom was in, so I guess they decided to only tell us what we needed to know.  The one thing I do remember was walking past my parent’s room and hearing my dad cry softly.  I can’t recall ever seeing my dad cry before this day.  I peaked through the door and saw my big, tall strong father looking very fragile.  That picture is something I remember up to today.  I never told my parents this … Mom had her operation and never received any chemo.  She has been great since then.  God looked after her for sure!  We are so blessed to still have our beautiful mom & dad with us.  They are both in their early 80’s (sorry mom!) and still going strong.

Middle last year I received the news that my eldest sister, Desire, was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.  It hit me like an overflowing bucket filled with colder than cold ice.  I could not bear the thought of her going through this terrible thing called cancer.  I live in Perth and she lives in South Africa, so since I could not be with her, I did the only thing I knew and that was to ask God to keep her safe and healthy.  Des herself started a prayer group on WhatsApp, I asked my close FB friends to pray for her and I’m pretty sure all her friends and the rest of our family started prayer groups as well.  The power of prayer is undeniable.  I’ve seen this way to many times in my life and so I know that the only way for her to get through this was with our prayers and Gods mercy and love.  Des has a huge support group back home.  Her friends are Super friends from way back when.  We have the best parents in the world and they would take care of her like no one else.  She had her surgery with family & friends by her side and she woke up with family & friends by her side.  Her friends made turns to keep her company throughout her chemo sessions and after every chemo session she went to mom and dad where they took great care of her.  I take my hat off to my parents who are both in their 80’s and who is still there for all of us.  God knew we needed them as parents!  Des and I had the best Skype chats during this time.  We like to laugh and sometimes that is the best medicine.  We had loads of fun and jokes when she started to loose her hair.  At one stage she looked like “Chucky the doll”, but with a way more friendlier and prettier face.  Oh boy, we had good fun.  Des came through her ordeal;  never felt sorry for herself and every single time praises God for helping her through this season of her life.  I am so proud of her for never giving up on life and God!

It was only a couple of weeks after Desire’s operation that my dearest middle sister, Minette, was also diagnosed with breast cancer.  I felt numb.  How can this be … I’m pretty sure it must be a mistake.  But unfortunately it was no mistake.  The fortunate thing for Minette was that they caught it in the early stages, so she only needed to have the lump removed and then she had 6 weeks of radiation.  That is no walk in the park either.  Over our Skype sessions she would show me the marks radiation leaves.  It is not pretty … and I felt for her, as it must have been so tender where she had her treatment.  Her spirit was, have been and always is high, so she handled her walk with cancer like a walk in the park.  There aren’t many things in life that gets her down.  She is such an example of never giving up since life handed her her faire share of sadness when she lost her husband to cancer.  But every cloud has its silver lining and she received God’s grace when she met and married her 2nd husband.

I was fortunate to go back home at the end of last year for Liezel, Desire’s middle daughter’s wedding.  I appreciated every minute with both my sisters and rest of the family.  My family is my world!  I unfortunately only got to see and spend time with Minette on the wedding day since they had to go back to her hubby’s family the next day.  At least I got a good couple of hugs and kisses from her 🙂

A couple of days before I had to return to Perth, I decided to photograph Des.  I love the positive vibe that shines from Des in these photos.  I love that cancer did not get the best of her and I love her lust and love for life.  I love that she is a child of God and I love that she accepted her situation.  I love that she loved her short hair and I love that she feels and felt beautiful.  I love that she never gave up.

I love that we as a family did not see the year 2016 as the worst year ever and I love that we don’t blame God for anything, but rather praise Him for everything we have.  We are a blessed God loving family and I love it!