TKO… In the 1st Round…


And so ends chemoradiation therapy…. well that’s what I’m telling myself anyway. I had my last session of what the doctor calls ‘round one’ today. I’m holding thumbs that it’s a TKO in the first round though and there won’t be anymore. That may be wishful thinking, but hey, a girl can dream! It has not been fun! It hurt, it really, really hurt and it has made me a very cranky, very moody little woman. I’m pretty sure my husband has developed a new fear of me lately. I’m beginning to think that the tattoo of the dragon on his arm is actually a portrait of me… poor man; I don’t envy him having to deal with me right now.

Later this week, it’s time for the progression assessment… I get to go through all the initial tests, all over again. We’ll be able to see from these, after a considerable wait for test results of course, whether  and how rapidly the cancer has progressed, if and how far it has spread, if and how the chemoradiation has worked and finally, a new prognosis. I’m really nervous about these results, in fact, I’m terrified. I’ve tried to stop myself of thinking about it too much, but at the same time, I’m trying to prepare myself for whatever happens. At this point, I’m not incredibly enthusiastic about having more chemoradiation but, you never know… I honestly can’t tell how I’ll react to whatever news I get. I will do my best to keep you updated as and when I find things out.

I haven’t been feeling great lately and although I’m trying extremely hard to keep going and carry on with my normal lifestyle, it’s getting increasingly difficult. Each day seems a little more tedious than the last and it takes more effort to do the little things. I get tired incredibly quickly and that really bugs me. I know its part and parcel of having this horrible disease but it’s extremely frustrating. I constantly remind myself that things have changed and I need to calm down, take it easy, expect less from myself and learn to say no. I try, all the time, to convince myself that it’s okay if I can’t do something, I’m allowed to stay at home sometimes and no one will think any less of me if I say no. No matter how many pep talks I give myself though, I just don’t listen. I keep trying, keep pushing and keep overdoing everything. The truth is, I’m a business owner… I have quite a few people depending on how I run my business to provide for their families and I love my business, I enjoy what I do. Besides that, I have a family and friends that are as traumatized by this as I am and spending time with me is important to them, especially now. It’s important to me too, I love spending time with my family and friends, and I don’t want to interfere with that time. I don’t understand how I can change anything considering that. Decisions are really tough nowadays… how do I decide what I can or can’t do, who I should or shouldn’t make time for? Where I should or shouldn’t go? For me these are impossible questions and at this point, they seem to be adding quite a few kilos to the load I’m carrying.

It helps to know that there are so many people carrying his load with me, walking with me, fighting with me. It’s so inspiring and uplifting and I am so grateful but sometimes, especially lately, my load seems to be getting increasingly heavy and I find myself getting really lonely even though I’m very seldom alone. It’s getting hard to make it through a day and I hate that feeling.

I’m so afraid that I’m going to miss something, I’m terrified that I’m going to run out of time and I’m going to lose out on all the things that I still want to do. There’s a big, wide world out there and I’m so scared that I’m never going to get to see any more of it. Having said that, I know that I have had a wonderful, full life thus far and I am so grateful for the things I have seen and the experiences I have been able to go through. I’m just not done yet, I’m not ready for it to be over yet and so… I have to keep going, as difficult as this is, I have to keep moving.

I don’t think there’s an easy way to handle cancer, I don’t believe that there’s a right or a wrong when it comes to this journey. Cancer does some very strange things to a person, not only physically but mentally and emotionally too. Cancer is confusing; it’ll make you believe that you should be selfish but then attacks you with guilt for not considering everyone else. It motivates you to be positive but then fills your head with morbid, painful and sometimes sickening thoughts. It teaches you something new every day but then makes you question everything you think you know. Most of all, cancer makes you fight… willing or not! You have to fight the disease, you have to fight the side effects that come with it and you have to fight everything and everyone that tries to pull you down, and then, just when you think you’ve dealt with anything and everything it could possibly throw at you, cancer chucks in a curveball and makes you fight against yourself. You have to fight your mind’s urge to give up, let go and just stop. Trust me, that urge is there and it is very, very real. It takes an unspeakable amount of strength to fight that. You have to fight your body’s natural reaction to things like chemotherapy and radiation. Basically, you have to tell your mind and body not to do what comes naturally. Nothing could have prepared me for this fight and something tells me I haven’t seen the half of it yet.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about death… I’m sure that’s quite normal considering I have a disgustingly horrible parasite on board that is quite insistent on taking over my body. I have no doubt that everyone that has been faced with a disease like cancer has thought about it at some point. I don’t believe it makes me negative though and it doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on anything. I suppose it’s just a part of this journey and something that we all, at one time or another, have to consider, face and deal with.

I was brought up to believe that there is a heaven and there is a hell and I grew up learning the principles of both. I still believe in these, very strongly and I’m sure that I always will (I’m not going to get into that though – there are very few things I hate more than talking about religion) but since I was diagnosed with cancer I seem to question everything… especially death! It doesn’t seem quite so ‘clear-cut’ anymore, I have questions, lots of them, but everyone has a different answer and at the end of the day, they’re all just opinions, beliefs… no one really knows for sure how death works. That frightens me. Have you ever wondered if you will actually see that deceased loved one again when you pass or if that’s just something they tell you to help you through the grief?  Have you ever questioned if there is really something more after your heart stops beating or if that’s just something they tell you to make you less afraid of death? These are the kinds of questions that have been on my mind lately. What if we’re completely wrong about everything we ‘believe’ about death? What if there’s just… well… nothing? I haven’t found the answers to these questions and hopefully I won’t find them out any time soon but it’s definitely something to ponder on. I don’t mean to offend anyone’s beliefs; I’m simply sharing my thoughts with you.

Every time we hear about someone passing, we think about their loved ones. We have sympathy for the grief and hurt they feel and we apologise for the fact that they will miss that person. What about the person that has passed though? Do they grieve for the life they left? Do they miss the people they will ever see again?  Do they even remember anything or anyone? These are just more questions that no one on earth can honestly answer. Crazy isn’t it.

That being said… the fight goes on and although I change my mind daily about how well I’m handling this, I will keep going, I have to. The journey is far from over and as long as I’m breathing, I’ll be fighting, As long as I’m moving, I’ll be walking. No one ever said this was going to be easy but in the end, it is most definitely going to be worth it! I may not always take the calls, respond to the messages or reply to the mails but I really do appreciate all of them. Sometimes I just really don’t want to talk. Sometimes I just need silence. I do love hearing from you though and I promise, as soon as I’m up to it, I will call you back, respond to your message or reply to your mail, so keep them coming, they mean the world to me.

Ok, so now that I’ve had a good, long venting session, let’s get down to the good news…. I’m super excited about this…

As you know, all too well I’m sure, I’m a Vrede girl, not because I have cancer, I was a Vrede girl long before I thought cancer was even a possibility. I started out being impressed by the foundation; I started to get involved now and then, and then more often. Before I knew it I was featuring in a Vrede Sport promo video (better known as my nude career début) and helping out with most of the Vrede events. Even though becoming a part of the reason for Vrede’s existence has been pretty tough, I have drawn an unbelievable amount of support, strength and inspiration from the Vrede team, I am still amazed at how awesome these people are. The latest ‘event’ took that gratitude to a whole new level though…

The Vrede team has been working on a clothing range as a part of the Vrede Foundation brand, there is an awesome designer (Yolandi Herbst) working on these ranges and it looks amazing. I was informed that the first range (to be released very soon) has been named after me…. I can’t actually believe that, why would anyone want to name a clothing range after me. WOW! I am absolutely speechless… I really don’t know what to say. Today I had a good look at the range and even got my pick of the range for myself. Could I be any more blessed?  A HUGE thank you to Yolandi and the Vrede team, I am so honoured. Thank You!

Please keep an eye out for the range coming soon to You will love it! I will keep you updated as and when I get more info and I will definitely post some pictures as soon as possible. I am so proud to have an actual clothing range carry my name… please check it out.

This weekend hosted an amazing photo shoot with my girls… It was so much fun; I loved every minute of it and I have no doubt that some awesome pictures and going to come out of it. I can’t wait to see them. I will be sure to post them ASAP. It was so unbelievably special.

I can’t believe how many things are happening for me nowadays. I honestly never thought I was so loved. Tattoos, photo shoots and even a clothing range… I am beyond grateful for everything that everyone is doing. I’m just so glad that I have also, in my own little way managed to draw more attention to cancer awareness. Even though it may only be on a small-scale in the grand scheme of things, people seem to be taking more notice and that makes me happy.  I am so looking forward to the 94.7 cycle race this year. There are a crazy number of people riding for Vrede… I like to think that I played a part in that. Being there to see it is definitely going to be one of the highlights of my life.

I apologise if this post has been a little ‘all over the place’, I had so much to say and putting it all together in a way that is even slightly legible has been tough. It’s not easy to deal with so many thoughts and emotions, all hitting me at the same time; it’s even harder to put them all into words and correctly structured sentences. Hopefully you’ll find something of use in here.

Much Love

One Day At A Time



11 thoughts on “TKO… In the 1st Round…

  1. Mandy, you have always been SUCH a stylish young lady, it comes as no surprise that you’ll soon have your name plastered all over a new clothing range.
    I have no doubt that they are stunning – looking forward to getting my hands on a piece or two, in support of the cause.

    “Sterkte” to you Mands. x Keep going. I think we are all just a call, a message, or a blog away.


  2. MANDS:) unbelievable YES! so young, and so much to offer… I firmly believe that what you make of life is what you leave behind…and you my “SIS” are not done, not until you feel its done, I LOVE YOU so much and would do anything to make you believe that you are so not alone in this, and WE as your family will always, always be there for you, you deserve more,

    And right here right now what you are doing by writting blogs about your “journey” thats already winning this disease, you are doing what so many dont have the courage to do against the “C” you are one step ahead, and thats not giving up…like you said…FIGHT…

    I want to Thank you for teaching us and making us understand what this is all about and what you are going through, it clearly opened my eyes, for a lot of reasons, so Thank you.

    I Love you so so so much


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  4. Hey Mands,

    I’ve read quite a few of your posts tonight and I’ve felt like I haven’t had anything worthwhile to contribute, until now. I realise that I have no real understanding of your journey or your experiences but I’d like to add my two cents in the hopes that you may feel less alone.

    I believe that a part of you is looking for answers about death – even though you acknowledge that there isn’t really any worldly wisdom that would put your mind at peace. I think that facing the inevitability of death is a terrifying, and it can also be a liberating process – regardless of whether we’re terminally ill or not. I’d like to recommend a book, as I think it may help you unravel some of your deep, philosophical thoughts, and it may help your realise that your thoughts and questions about death are not morbid but necessary and normal…

    I’ve read this book and I found it both horrifying and inspiring – it’s called “Man’s Search for Meaning” and it was written in 1946 by Viktor Frankl. Initially, Frankl chronicles his experiences as an Auschwitz survivor (autobiographical section) and later he describes his psychotherapeutic method of finding a reason to live (psychotherapy section). He might describe what you’re experiencing as an existential crisis. I’m not saying you’ll find answers in it, but if you’re going to be able to unpack some of your thoughts and emotions, it might strike a chord for you, as you may be able to relate to his story in a very real way. It’s a short book – you could probably read it in less than one day, but it will depend on how strong you’re feeling emotionally…

    I don’t necessarily “buy into” the psychology of the book, but I do think it might be a way for you to reframe your thoughts about death as well as serving as a ‘friend to sit with you in the fire’ so to speak. It’s entirely your choice. I know everyone else’s messages seem so much more positive so please don’t misunderstand mine – I also care and I do not wish to upset you or make you feel any additional anguish or distress.

    Take care; you’re a precious, phenomenal, and inspiring lady. Remember it is okay to question everything, so try not to be too hard on yourself. As far as I can tell, you are a fighter, you’re an exceptionally brave women, and you have a lot of wisdom to share, so thank you!


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