Five real South African women and cancer survivors shared their stories with us and gave over the lessons that they gained from their battles with cancer.


TeresaTeresa Wilson


“Cancer taught me that you CAN do what you never imagined you could do. Cancer takes so much from you so quickly and it makes your head spin. Your emotions are on a rollercoaster and, of course, you are pushed to the point of having to face your own mortality.


Cancer taught me that there are so many more important things in life that matter. It taught me so much empathy and an incredible desire to get through the ‘race of my life’ to pay-it-forward.


Your mind is a large part of your healing journey. Cancer cannot affect your positive mind. It attacks your body and the treatment is about fixing your body. Your mind is yours and cancer CANNOT take that.”


Teresa ran her first Comrades Marathon the year before she was diagnosed and it helped her to make an analogy between what she was going through during treatment and running a monstrous ultra-marathon.


If I could do Comrades, I could do this


“Treatment was a marathon with water tables, certain achievement points along the race and a defined finish line. If I could do Comrades, I could do this. After going through treatment and lining up to run the Comrades Marathon again I was saying to myself that I beat breast cancer – this was just a run. I could do this.”


ElnaElna McIntosh


Cancer taught me we can have career changes and a midlife crisis and we can follow our dreams. Cancer gave me confidence because I realized I had a story to tell and through my work as a Sexologist I could educate women about Sexual Health. To date I have had my own Radio shows, a few TV series, write for several publications, became a professor, travelled the world to International conferences, presented at conferences, given key note lectures and mostly just being blessed with opportunities.”


Cancer taught me we can have career changes and a midlife crisis and we can follow our dreams


JANEJane Ballot


Cancer taught Jane a lot about self-acceptance and not caring what other people think. Her whole life she had an irrational fear of losing her hair, and when it happened, despite the excruciating pain, it was ok.



JANICEJanice Benecke


“Cancer taught me to love and care for the next person and to be a support system for others. My whole life has changed. I live for PinkDrive; My every thought is to be there and show support when needed.”



LyndaLynda Mathinus


“Cancer taught me how to say “no” to things that did not sit right with me without feeling guilty.  It gave me the opportunity to use my voice to inspire and motivate others and to use my outspoken personality to highlight the ongoing challenges faced by thousands.


My moto in life has always been…..Nothing is impossible – and never say Die.  Live life each moment and when you think you can’t carry on any more give a thought to those whose fight is worse than yours.  Be true to yourself.


Life journeys are to be embraced – irrespective of how hard it may appear


I have also come to accept that life journeys are to be embraced – irrespective of how hard it may appear – there is a greater purpose to it – make no mistake – the journey can suck real bad – but staying true to ones emotions and how one feels during the journey is important – be sad – be happy – be angry – it doesn’t matter – all that matters is staying true to YOU.”



This story was made possible by PinkDrive.


PinkDrive is a non-profit organisation that runs mobile Women’s Health Mammography and Gynaecology Units. Their message is ‘Early Detection Saves Lives’ and they put their money where their mouth is by travelling to semi-urban and urban areas around South Africa with the aim of enabling all medically uninsured women to access women’s health services.  These services include free education on women’s health, free mammograms, free pap smears, free clinical examinations and how to do breast self-examinations. It costs them R675K per month to provide these services to South African Women and they receive no government funding. Visit their website to find out how you can give through volunteering, donating or simply swiping your MySchool card.

Thank you to Janice Benecke, Jane Ballot, Teresa Wilson, Elna McIntosh and Lynda Marthinus who opened up and shared their stories with us.

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