Breast cancer

Updated 20 November 2017

'Cancer's a bitch'

Samantha Jankovich is being treated for breast cancer. Read her whacky tales about how she deals with cancer while she gets on with her life.

Samantha Jankovich is being treated for breast cancer. Read her whacky tales about how she deals with cancer while she gets on with her life. 

Married to Nik, a Hungarian Count, mother to Joshua (15) and Annie (11), with a budding career in politics, Sam writes for Bioharmony about how she deals with cancer while she gets on with her life.

"After years after living in various cities, both in South Africa and abroad, I finally settled in a small Karoo town with my family, believing I had found my Nirvana.  The first 18 months proved me right, as I threw myself headfirst into small-town living, community upliftment and local politics.  It appeared that my life was perfect.

"In the middle of September 2010, I found a small lump in my left breast and everything changed.  Suddenly I found myself confronting my own mortality, the public healthcare system and the reality that for every heaven there is a corresponding hell.

"I decided to start writing my blog as a means of keeping my friends and family apprised of the situation, but quickly discovered that it was more than just that.  I have found that sharing my experiences has been my own form of therapy, while also giving others insight into the world of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, the downside of living in the middle of nowhere, the bizarre side-effects of chemotherapy and my slightly off-beat family and friends."

Here is an excerpt from Sam’s blog:

DAY one – Groote Schuur

Having not eaten anything all day, I made the fatal mistake of asking for some of the lunch, which had just been served.  I was a little concerned about the fact that the only eating utensil provided was a large plastic spoon.  That is until I realised it was to prevent patients from stabbing themselves to death when they saw the food.  On the plate was a grey stew, dry white rice and carrots that had not gone willingly to the slaughter and were clinging to the plate for all they were worth.  Not even violent jabbing with the plastic spoon could dislodge them.

The nursing staff, however, were extremely kind and helpful.  Although, thinking back, I realise that the one thing they failed to indicate in their “induction” programme, was the access to the “call” button.  These are hidden strategically behind the bed so that they cannot be reached by anybody in need.  Sneaky, but effective.

I was in a 6 bed ward with 5 delightful women with varying illnesses and we quickly bonded.  There is nothing like a discussion of ailments to get most women animated.  From Crohn’s disease to breast cancer to some weird leg thing that started as an ankle pimple and ended as a giant, red leg (none of us could work that one out), we all had a story to tell.

At 4.30 I was summonsed back to C3 to check the progression of my radioactivity.  It should have been much earlier, but the machine had been broken and the technician had had to be called in.  I’m not accepting responsibility here, but given my history of having to have all my tests done twice due to various problems, I have to wonder.

I arrived back at my ward to find my mom, my stepsister, Lucy (who brought me sushi for dinner – gotta love her!!) and my friend, Karen causing chaos, as usual.  I really do need to start mixing with more refined company!

After they left, I waited anxiously for my sleeping tablets.  They finally arrived in an armoured vehicle accompanied by two AK47-wielding security guards, stowed in a titanium briefcase handcuffed to the nurse’s arm.  After handing over three forms of identification, including a thumb print and a lock of hair for DNA verification, I was handed two little disks of oblivion.  Actually, dispensing only required one witness to the handing over of the tablets, but it certainly felt like a CIA-operation!

After signing for my tablets, I took one of my room-mates and we ducked down to the trauma unit for a last cigarette with the security guards.  Back in the ward, I tucked my valuables under my pillow and settled in for a last pain-free sleep.

Follow Sam’s weekly blog “Hair today, gone…” here.

- Bioharmony South Africa press release

- (Health24, March 2011)


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Ask the Expert

Breast cancer expert

Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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