Rada Govinsamy’s story is a stirring reminder of the power of the human spirit. Since surviving breast cancer in her early forties, she has used her personal experience to encourage others to lead balanced lifestyles to help reduce the risk of disease.
A volunteer of the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), 67-year old Govinsamy fulfils numerous speaking engagements around the country. “I talk at schools, hospitals, workplaces and events such as the Discovery Cape Times Big Walk,” she says.
When Govinsamy noticed a lump in her breast in early 1984 she decided to leave it until December to do something about it. Fortunately for her, a stress-related black-out forced her to see her doctor in July. He was more concerned about her breast than anything else and immediately suggested she get it checked out for cancer.
“I underwent surgery to remove the lump and the biopsy tested positive for cancer. It was a devastating shock for me. I had two children of school-going age and I knew they still needed me. This knowledge, combined with my strong Christian faith, were powerful incentives to fight the disease,” says Govinsamy.
The next two years were difficult. Govinsamy’s left breast was removed and she underwent chemotherapy and radiation. “I lost all my hair and the entire process was highly traumatic – for me and my family,” she says.
Making smart choices
Following the successful treatment of the cancer, Govinsamy decided to maintain a healthier lifestyle, to avoid a recurrence. In the process, she became a role model for others in similar situations. She began eating lots of fruit and vegetables, cut out red meat and started drinking water and herbal tea.
“I also started walking regularly and spent time gardening, sewing and became a full-time volunteer for Cansa as I realised there was a dire need to educate people on adopting balanced lifestyles and getting regular check-ups”.
“My strong message, especially to women, is - make smart choices and do not delay if you notice something different about your body. Get to a doctor and have it checked out immediately,” says Govinsamy.
Dorothy du Plooy, Cansa Western Cape’s General Manager: Service Delivery, says Govinsamy is an inspiration to other cancer survivors. “To be able to survive such a devastating diagnosis makes people like Rada stronger. She is living proof that there is hope after a cancer diagnosis,” she says.
Funding granted by the Discovery Cape Times Big Walk, is allocated to the Cape Metro Cansa Care Centre to fight cancer in the local community.
Adds Du Plooy, “We provide screening services at all major metro centres; wigs for people who have lost their hair as well as counselling and support groups for those affected by cancer. And we run a breast prosthesis bank, a stoma therapy unit in Mowbray and two Cansa Care Homes that provide transport and accommodation for cancer patients receiving treatment.”
Jody Foster, head of sponsorships at Discovery says, Govinsamy’s message is important – not only for cancer survivors, but for the entire population. “Adopting a balanced lifestyle is the best way to keep illness and lifestyle diseases at bay. We salute Rada and Cansa – their work is invaluable and their message powerful,” she says.
(Discovery press release)
(Health24, July 2012)
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