Rayghanah Cassiem (59) fondly known as Ray, is a working mom, a wife, granny, mom in law and a Metastatic Breast Cancer Survivor. This means that the cancer, which started in her breast, has now spread to her breast bone.
The mom of four was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer at the age of 46, and although the doctors told her that she would be lucky if she made it to five years after diagnosis, she has been living with this disease for 13 years.
“When I was told I had stage 2 breast cancer, my world came crumbling down. I was in total shock, I was numb. It took time to process the news. It was hard and I told myself find opportunity in this challenge. I have and I am still empowering myself to survive this challenge. My cancer is in stage 4, it is advanced and incurable however, I’m managing my condition well.” Ray says.
Ray, although faced with a life threatening disease, has made it her goal to use her journey with cancer to create awareness, inspire and give hope. In 2011 she joined an organisation called Cancervive that has the same objectives as she does. The ambassadors visit clinics, hospitals, schools, orphanages, old age homes, farms, factories and rural areas throughout South Africa where they educate and give support to those living with this disease. She has also formed a Cancer Buddy group where she draws up programs and gets professional speakers to assist in making the cancer journey easier for many newly diagnosed patients.
“This work is healing to my soul. I may not be cured, however, I am healed.” she says.
Living with cancer has given Ray a new perspective on life. Before her diagnosis she says that she did not live, but merely existed.
“I have changed my lifestyle. I am no fanatic but I eat healthy meals, I exercise regularly and surround myself with people who add value to my life. I believe in healthy green juices that boost the immune system. I have a goal each week to either paddle, run or hike. I have run 11 Two Oceans Half Marathons after my diagnosis and I have just returned from the 2018 Cancervive Ride. My Oncologist is amazed at my condition. Cancer chose me, I choose not to own it.” she highlights.
Subsequent to leading a healthy lifestyle, the Ray also does her bit in giving the same to others. On occasion, she takes a day’s leave to cook a blended veggie soup and make a healthy sandwich for the patients at Tygerberg Kiddies Oncology.
Ray cites the great support she has received from her family, colleagues and friends as her biggest driving force. She also emphasized the importance of having regular check ups and paying attention to the signs and symptoms.
“I wish that people would take the need to have themselves checked more seriously. I know they have fear however, we only have one life and early detection can save your life. Early detection can reduce treatment. Men also get Breast Cancer therefor my message is to everyone.” she concludes.