Breast Cancer Survivor, Chipo Makumbe Shares Her Story

1. Tell Us A Bit About Yourself.
My name is Chipo Rosemary Makumbe Nee Muzvuzvu. I am a wife to a loving husband and mother to two boys aged 22 and 18. I’m an entrepreneur and a baker at Chipo’s Delightful Cakes, My hobbies are reading, singing and baking.

2. How did you find out you had it and when? How did you and your family take the news?
Back in November, 2006 I had visited relatives in Lusaka Zambia. Had just finished bathing and when I was applying lotion on my body, I felt a lump on my left breast as small as a pea. I was with my late young sister Mary whom I asked to feel it. She did and asked me how I felt and I said “Only God knows!”. The lump was so secretly positioned so I decided to brush it off. When I went back to Zim, I told my husband and he suggested I see a doctor before jumping into conclusions. By then, the lump had grown a bit bigger.

I visited a clinic and the nurse asked me if I felt any pain or puss I said no and she said not to worry. She recommended a hospital to visit in case I wanted it removed. The nurses there asked me the same questions, assured me not to worry but then referred me to another doctor who booked me for an operation to remove the lump so that it would be tested. It was done and they found out it was cancer then they did another operation now removing another piece of the breast. It was tested and they found out it was still there. Now it hit me so hard but I began to think positively and I told myself that it would not kill me.

3. Describe the journey with breast cancer.

When my family heard it the first time, they were shocked and I told them I would go for the second test then we would map the way forward after that. When the results came positive again, we went back to the doc and he gave us two options to remove another piece and test or to remove the whole breast. I was shocked and I asked my doctor if he seriously wanted me to have one breast. He asked me to think about it and my husband and I agreed to have the breast removed. We visited other specialists just to make sure it was our only option and it turned out it was. I was admitted for an operation on the 14th of June, a week before my 35th birthday. It was all unexpected because there was no history of breast cancer in my family. The operation went well. I also had someone to counsel me, a fellow survivor who was so nice and encouraging. To say the journey was unbelievable is an understatement, I really wish I could meet the person who came up with the chemotherapy medicine. You can never explain the feeling. It was so awful! the smell of the medicine would make you want to run away. The oncologist told me I was going to have 6 cycles. For the first one I told myself “Chipo u can do this!”, and it wasn’t so bad. However, cycle number 2 was unbelievable. I would vomit the whole night and would wake up feeling like I had been run over by a train. I started losing my hair and when I became bold, my sons could not believe it but they understood what was happening. I nearly gave up but I thank God for the family He blessed me with. They supported me all the way. The most painful part was getting back to my normal self,taste buds coming back, hair growing etc. I would never allow any negativity around me and I read the bible everyday. My life carried on. Psalm 103 vs 1-4 always encouraged me and it made me strong when ever I was getting weak, I saw light when it seemed like there was no way out.

4. Who was your biggest support through it all.
My husband really supported me even though my other family members were there for me he really encouraged me.

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