Don't be afraid to seek a second opinion

12th February 2018
Patricia Letlape Source:The Midweek Sun


By Rachel Raditsebe -

Breast cancer survior, Patricia Letlape urges patients to always seek a second opinion especially when it comes to life threatening diseases like cancer. Letlape is a member of the Fighters Support Group, which is made up of breast cancer survivors. Just like other members, she is involved in educating other women on the importance of early diagnosis and treatment as well as providing psychological support to those battling cancer. In 2015, Letlape went for her breast cancer screen after she felt a tiny mass, the size of a grain on the upper part of her right breast.

She went to the doctor but was told not to worry, it was nothing. “I did not feel pain in any of the breasts neither was there any discharge coming from them. My breasts remained the same except for the tiny mass I had discovered,” she says. However, the tiny mass began to grow and getting a little comfortable, and so Letlape decided to go to a different doctor to seek a second opinion. Here, a number of tests were conducted including a mammogram (an x-ray image of the breasts taken to detect any strange abnormalities). “During the examination, the mammogram technologist saw the mass on my left breast, hence confirming my earlier conclusion,” she says. “What followed was a biopsy and I was confirmed to have stage three breast cancer” she told attendants during world cancer commemorations at Maru-A-Pula School on Saturday.

She had to have a mastectomy (breast removal) and further treatment including chemotherapy. On a monthly basis, she would go for the chemotherapy, which involves receiving intravenous injections of drugs intended to treat cancer. “The side effects of the treatment were severe. I lost my hair and fingernails and used to vomit nonstop,” she says. However, a miracle happened when she unexpectedly fell pregnant at radiation stage. “Thanks to the care from my oncologist, Dr Chiapo, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl last year,” she said with a joyous smile. Today, Letlape lives a healthy and happy life and is grateful to God who, she says, saved her life.

From what the doctor told me, I am certain that I am completely healed. I never worry that the cancer will resurface. I focus on living a healthier lifestyle and raising my now 5-month old baby,” she says, adding: “I believe God put me through this experience for a reason. Maybe He wanted me to go through it so that I am able to help others.” To women battling breast cancer, Letlape says rather than give up, continue fighting and taking treatment. And to other young women who have never been diagnosed with the disease, she advises them to do frequent breast examinations either at home or at a reputable health facility. “Seek a second opinion whenever you have doubts,” she advises.

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