Another step closer..

In my HAPPY PLACE

Sorry that I have been so quiet. It has been a rather busy few weeks. The first reason I haven’t written is due to the fact that I went on the holiday of a lifetime with the best people. I decided a few months ago that life is too short (for obvious reasons) and arranged to take my family and best girls (disclaimer this was a hard decision as I wish I could have taken them all) on a holiday of a lifetime. Everyone that knows me, knows that, every spare moment I get, I spend in the Kruger National Park. This is what I fondly refer to as my happy place. It is where I go to recharge my batteries at least a few times a year. Located within the Greater Kruger National Park is of course the Sabi Sands. After having experienced some photographic safaris a few years ago, this luxury has been out of reach for a while. Whilst Kruger remains my first love, game viewing in the Sabi Sands is quite unique in that you really get to experience the wildlife up close and personal particularly leopards. It is a much more chilled way to conduct game viewing as you just sit on the vehicle and the amazing tracker and ranger use their eagle eyes to spot game for you. And spot they did!!!!!

My specials

Being a family that has watched Safari Live / WildEarth for many years, reignited during lockdown I must say, I decided that we need to go to Djuma Private Nature Reserve where WildEarth is filmed. In addition they have an amazing lodge which is quite reasonable considering the sands and we could book out the entire lodge just for us. The lodge is called Vuyatela and it was just amazing. Having the whole place to ourselves was super special. We lounged by the pool, had afternoon naps and saw THE most amazing sightings. To say we were spoilt was an understatement.

Lots of photographers

On our first drive, we came across none other than Lauren Arthur from WildEarth and her cam-ops David (aka Dawie). We all gave her a resounding greeting and she was very polite and said hi to us all. We had heard that she was leaving WildEarth and I proceeded to ask if this was true which she confirmed. To this I replied with an expletive because we were all sad that it was true. She then informed us that she was live! So I swore on live TV to about 10 000 odd peeps around the world! Whilst it was funny (ok it was hilarious) I did feel terrible and I messaged her later that night and apologised. I invited her and Dawie for a drink to make it up and they accepted. We had the most lovely evening chatting to these two charming peeps. Lauren really is an asset to WildEarth and what you see on TV is what you see in real life. I really do hope that they realise her potential and get her back. She told us about the new hyena den and we got to see the famous matriarch Ribbon (but no babbies). Thank you Lauren for being fabulous!!!

WE are such fan girls… Sarah and I with Lauren

Below is just one of the many pics I took but it is one of my favourites. We saw numerous lions, lions on a kill, leopard on a kill, leopards on ant heaps, leopards stealing other leopards food, elephants, buffalos on our doorstep and numerous antelope and bird species. We were so spoilt. It was hard to come home..

Nkuhuma Young Male Lion

But I digress…

Upon returning from THE most amazing holiday, it was onto the next stage of treatment. Radiation. So radiation is conducted after surgery that I had to ensure that no cancer cells remain i.e. zap them! Radiation acts by killing slowing cancer cells by damaging their DNA. Whilst all my cancer was removed, this is just insurance to help prevent re-occurrence. I had what is referred to as external beam radiation. I underwent mapping scans prior to the holiday where they position you and tattoo you with little dots (I added a few more freckles) so that you can be in the same position for each session. Its quite cool, they use lasers to position you for each session. The actual radiation has been such a breeze. The biggest inconvenience has been driving to Donald Gordon (40km round trip) everyday. I am wondering how many speeding fines I got….

My skin has handled it quite well. It is a bit red and itchy but otherwise it has been fine. I have another two weeks where the radiation will still be active in my cells where after I will start to heal.

The fabulous part about doing my radiation at Donald Gordon is that they use the Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH) technique to administer the radiation. This is in order to protect your heart and lungs as much as possible during the radiation. So what this means is when they start the radiation you have to breathe in deeply and hold your breath while the radiation is being administered. This apparently cuts the amount of radiation your heart gets by half. To help with this you get to watch a screen with a blue and yellow line and you have to breathe in and keep the yellow line in the blue line where it turns green. I am hoping all the deep breathing will help with my running!

So I had to do this everyday for 4 weeks. Luckily in the middle there they had to service the machine and I got to spend a weekend playing shuttle bunny to my Mindful Runner buddies in the Berg. The universe was aligning well…

Helen and I got to hike to the Sterkspruit falls when she wasn’t running up mountains

So today I put my flower on the wall. When you finish radiation you get to add a flower to the beautiful tree that they have painted on the wall. Pretty cool. I politely told the fabulous ladies (after feeding them chocolate) that I hoped I wouldn’t be seeing them again… They were amazing though. Tumi and Zandi were my favourites as they were always so happy to hear about my weekends and adventures and always remembered what I had been up to. It meant a lot.

Saying goodbye to the Wits Donald Gordon Radiation Oncology Unit with a flower on the tree

So what is next…. next I start my oral chemo Xeloda for 6 months. I get to see my fabulous oncology team, Ronwyn and Karabo, every three weeks and hopefully I get through it unscathed. I am excited to tell you that I have been entered into a clinical trial. Due to the fact that I did not have a PCR (pathological Complete Response) i.e. my tumour did not disappear with the chemo treatment (don’t worry it has been removed completely) I am a perfect candidate for a clinical trial for triple negative breast cancer. I am the first person registered in the trial and it is essentially a cancer vaccine. I am so excited for this and cannot wait to get it after my Xeloda treatment. Everyone must please hold fingers and toes crossed that I get the actual vaccine and not the placebo.

I leave you with the good news that I have started running again. A long way to go but I am loving the comeback and can’t wait to hit my trails again soon.

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