Sheldene’s thoughts on… Heroes and the ABCs

07:33 18 October in Pigmentatioin

I’m always struck by the heroism of our breast reconstruction patients. These amazing ladies have had the diagnosis we all dread. They have heard the words “you have breast cancer”. Like true heroes, they don’t give up the fight. They arm themselves with information and step by step they make the choices they need to make to return to health and wholeness.

Another person I regard as a personal hero is Alison Botha. Alison is best known for the ordeal she survived in 1994 when she was raped and left for dead. In her inspirational book, I have life, and subsequent motivational speaking career she encourages people who are going through trauma (and a cancer diagnosis is always traumatic for everyone involved) to focus on the ABCs:

  • Attitude
  • Belief
  • Choice


The ladies we help through the trauma of their breast cancer diagnosis and decision to have a breast reconstruction all have the ABCs in common.

They have a survivor’s attitude. They recognise that they cannot always control what happens to them, but they can control their attitude towards it. Their attitude is almost always “I will beat this thing”.

Belief is more than just a positive attitude. Their attitude and choices show they truly believe this is not the end, but a bump in the road that needs to be negotiated. Many believe in a higher power that has never felt closer than after diagnosis. This belief brings comfort and surety that “everything will be alright”. It is this belief and the support of friends and family that gets them through the toughest times of their treatment and recovery.

Choice – this to me is the most heroic part. Our breast reconstruction patients have made a choice that indicates they believe there will be “life after cancer”. They make plans to have a plastic surgeon help them achieve a “normal” appearance after mastectomy by reconstructing new breasts for them. So they don’t have to deal with an external prosthesis that shifts in a bra. So that (in some cases) they can wake up from the mastectomy with “normal looking” breasts. Life after breast cancer can still mean cleavage-revealing dresses, bikini tops, lingerie and intimacy.

In October we salute our breast cancer survivors. What a privilege to walk the hero’s walk with you on the road from discovery to recovery.