How Love Saved Her – Rejoice, A Breast Cancer Survivor Talks About Her Journey

We love sharing stories that are incredible touching. We all know that October is breast cancer awareness month, even though we as Exposé magazine believe breast cancer support and fundraising awareness should happen all year around. Being informed that you have cancer must be the most devastating news one can hear. Sharing what cancer patients and how survivors faced cancer inspires everyone to face it differently. This month of October we feature Rejoice Utsiwegota, an amazing and strong woman. We love her zest for life and ability to find humor in the toughest situations. Rejoice shares her story:

I am Rejoice Utsiwegota and was a pre-term born at six months. I will be 28 in November. I was diagnosed end of September 2016 with stage three cancer when I found a lump in my right breast. After noticing the weird lump I did not consult the doctor because it was not painful. I would play with the lump even. Finally, I went to the doctor and got a scan done and I was told I was told that I had a 2cm cancerous lump. I did not panic because a part of me was happy that they discovered it early. My family was very supportive during the results stage. Because I am the last born in the family, it got everyone worried and scared. I then went for a mastectomy and after the mastectomy surgery I was in hospital for a week.

When my operation finally healed I went for treatment and I started having side effects of throwing up every time I looked at food. My grandmother died during this period and sadly I could not attend her funeral. After two weeks, my hair started falling out. This broke my confidence as I had to go bold, no eyelashes, and no eyebrows! I certainly looked like an alien.

  • The day i got a free Vault makeover from Jackie. It made me feel better because i had brows and lashes for a day.

At one point I wanted to give up on the chemotherapy cycles. I had eight chemotherapy cycles and I couldn’t take more of the nausea, bone pain, neurotherapy pain and feeling weak. In addition, I had 25 radiotherapy sessions which were very painful. I got my strength from God and support from family, friends and my fiancé. I had to be strong for my daughter as she was always close by.

The absolute worst thing was having my friend go through chemo the same time I did. Every time I wanted to give up she would call and tell me how we had to be strong for our kids plus talking about how we were going to take our kids for a trip after treatment. Unfortunately, she passed away a few weeks after her last chemo. At this point I had lost hope, a friend and it broke me.

The cancer I had was not genetic but hormone receptor positive meaning my body hormones generated the cancer. I feel terrible for that my family had to see me go through this causing so much fear and stress. My sister could not speak to me for a week as she was scared, my mom wouldn’t sleep, my brothers and sisters in law stood by me through prayers, hugs, gifts and amazing love. My work colleagues made it easy for me as well. My soon to be husband stood by me and held my hand through the tough and imperfect times. I am forever grateful for the love that these amazing people showed me. I lost friends during this battle and I thank God as I got to see who my real friends were.

I urge my dear sisters to take advantage of the October breast cancer month and get tested for free. It’s best to know your results early and to my sisters who are going through treatment remember you are a soldier and God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. Having your hair, eyebrows eyelashes fall out does not make you less of a woman than you are. Every time you feel less remember Rejoice the preterm made it!

I thank the following people: My mother, my brothers (Innocent Simba Zed), my sister Jossi, my fiancé Victor Zvobgo, my colleagues at Risworth House Preparatory School, Ree Ree Hearty Healthy Food staff members, Dorris, James, Batsi, Hannisa Nyamweda, Tendai Matongo, Marley Guyo and last but not least, V Peta (MHSRIP).

Photography: OC Media Studios

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