For SHAUNA ARENDSE, her journey through breast cancer was more than just survival. It became one of forgiveness and letting go of years of resentment so that she could heal herself holistically.
‘I’ve always tried my best to keep healthy, exercising regularly and eating correctly. So when I started getting pins and needles in my left arm in December 2016, I thought nothing of it,’ she explains. She ignored the sensation – until a few months later, when her left breast began feeling sensitive, painful and tender, the way it might just before a period. Concerned, Shauna consulted a doctor. ‘It turned out I had an abscess on my left breast, just below the nipple. I had it removed, was hospitalised for 10 days and was given antibiotics before being discharged.’ As routine procedure, the abscess was sent to a laboratory for analysis.
A few days later, she received a phone call from her doctor. She had breast cancer and he’d booked her for a double mastectomy that same week. ‘On the other side of the line, I sat frozen, trying to comprehend all he was telling me. He was trying to reassure me that everything would be fine, but all I could think was: “I’m going to die.”’
Shauna’s husband was unhappy about the way she was being rushed into the procedure and decided she should get a second opinion. That week he contacted Prof Carol-Ann Benn, renowned specialist surgeon and breast disease