This month for Cipla’s Community Hero we spoke to breast cancer survivor, Ana Rocha. We sat down to ask Ana about her experience fighting the disease and how the PinkDrive initiative has changed her life.
- Please give us some background info about yourself and tell us when your journey started.
I started menopause when I was 51 years old, and was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 at the age of 55. I lived in Cape Town at the time and my surgeon told me that I had to do a mastectomy and have radiation treatments. I did not opt for chemo. Some of my tissue extracted for biopsy was sent to a lab outside the country so that a specific test for breast cancer could be performed.
- How are you feeling these days?
I am still going through my annual checkups and I have another two years to go before I can be considered in remission, so I try my best to be positive and just hope and pray for everything to be fine in the future.
- The Pink Drive is an independent, registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO). How did you become aware of the PinkDrive?
I was pleasantly surprised to see Cipla’s page on my Facebook news feed. I followed it and found the PinkDrive page through it.
- What does the PinkDrive initiative mean to you?
The PinkDrive initiative is a great way of delivering the right information to women. It provides support through treatments and helps clarify any doubts that they may have.
- Tell us your thoughts on the importance of early detection
In my case I was very lucky in a way because I had this cancer inside my breast for quite a while without spreading. My doctor at the time said that he could not find any explanation for it.
We all know that early detection is crucial and for that to happen, women need to be well informed and always alert to detect any changes in their bodies. The PinkDrive really helps with this in that they are informative and help women know what to look out for.
- As a cancer survivor, what advice would you give those currently struggling to beat the disease?
My family and friends have always considered me a strong woman and I probably am. In the end everyone, without exception, has fears and doubts. But the reality and the truth is that we have to go on and we all need to find the best way to do that. So perhaps my advice will not be for everyone.
To actually deal with cancer and specifically with breast cancer though, one needs to be really open and trust your doctor with your life. So I think that the doctor factor is very important. After that, the patient’s mindset is equally important. A negative attitude will not create a healthy mind. A mind where you can actually visualise yourself healed and going on with your life, with happiness and fulfilment.
- How has surviving cancer changed your outlook on life?
Well, it’s made me realise that life is amazing, and that we have to at least try to give ourselves the chance to live it the best that we can.
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