In August this year, Mawisa Chauke posted these emotional photographs to Varsity World’s Facebook page…
At the time the photos were taken, Chauke was celebrating her master’s degree but faced an even tougher battle ahead – against her recently diagnosed breast cancer.
“I even recall the song I was singing,” posted Chauke. “Through it all, I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to depend upon his word.”
The images quickly went viral with South Africans congratulating her on her achievements, and also on the fantastic news that she had won her battle against the disease.
All4Women chatted to Chauke about her journey, and what kept her going through her darkest moments.
“My only son was also the greatest source of strength since I didn’t want him to become an orphan,” recalls Chauke. She also had the support of her dedicated family.
“My mom survived breast cancer 11 years ago, and gave me the courage to fight. My maternal aunt and sister who were taking me to the hospital for treatment also gave me hope and strength, together with my dad who was always there for me throughout.”
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Chauke was first diagnosed on 17 January this year
The diagnosis came as a shock as she was just 30 years old at the time. “I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. It’s not really common. The studies showed that about 10-20% of cancers test for triple negative breast cancer.”
She underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the recommendation of her doctors. “My doctors were very helpful. They made me understand what kind of cancer I was diagnosed with and answered all the questions I had about my journey.”
Inspiring hope in others
Chauke started a social media movement to help inspire other women who have been diagnosed with cancer. “I want people to have hope, understand that cancer is not a death sentence. I also wanted to break the belief that breast cancer is for a certain age group. I want people to understand that a person can be diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and still able to make it.”
I want to teach people that we are what we tell ourselves we are. During cancer treatment I always told myself that I’m a fighter, conqueror and a winner, and indeed I won!
Raising funds for breast cancer programme in her community
“I started an initiative selling MTS (MawisaTheSurvivor) products such as masks, T-shirts and mugs to help raise funds for a breast cancer program in my community,” says Chauke. “This will help in building breast cancer awareness since lots of people have less information on breast cancer.”
She will also be writing a book to share her journey on how she conquered cancer.
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