Every success story usually comes with its fair share of obstacles. It wouldn’t be a success story otherwise, right?
Jade Wyngaardt was born in Cape Town. She’s the co-founder of Click Africa Digital, a career that was born from freelancing and wanting to provide young entrepreneurs with the resources they need to market their business.
She didn’t have much growing up but she knew she wanted to achieve big things. Unfortunately, just as her new business was beginning to thrive, Jade would soon face a battle that she was in no way prepared for.
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The diagnosis journey:
When I first asked her to describe the moment she was diagnosed she tells me that “it started off as a general check up at home.”
“I did a self-examination test and I found a little pea-sized bump that didn't feel normal - that didn't feel like it was part of my breast. And I remember my husband telling me that I needed to go and check it out.”
She waited for two months before she went to her GP who then performed a breast examination and referred her to a breast clinic.
Jade adds that the doctor told her to not be too concerned because she was still "young and healthy."
"She said I should just go have things checked out and that I would get the results on the same day."
“I went the following weekend to the breast clinic at Groote Schuur and I went through the process.”
“The process started from the morning and lasted right up until afternoon and includes a breast examination, as well as the extraction of some breast tissue.”
WATCH: Unbreakable Jade Wyngaardt
"They called me on the Monday to come in on the Wednesday and they sat me down and - at this point I already knew what they were going to say because of the ambiguity around my results - told me that I had cancer."
So Jade was officially diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. What followed next was discussions of her treatment plan going forward.
She adds that it took a while for her to absorb the news and everyone, especially Jade's husband was concerned.
And the treatment plan, which consisted of hormone therapy began. She also had surgery scheduled - a double mastectomy, but three days before the operation was scheduled, things took an unexpected turn.
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An unexpected discovery
"I felt very weird on that Friday but wasn't sure if it was because of the medication I was, on, but the strange feeling felt very familiar - since I have had two children before. So I decided to pick up a pregnancy test from the pharmacy.
"And when I tested for it, the results were positive."
Jade says she was absolutely gobsmacked and says that when she first told her husband she was pregnant, she burst into tears.
"I was completely shattered because I now knew that I was pregnant but I was also fighting for my life. How could I possibly do this?"
"I knew that I couldn't possibly carry my baby to term."
And it was at this moment that Jade decided that she'd need to have her unborn child terminated.
"That is why I was crying... because I was already mourning the death of my unborn child."
When Jade went for her admission on the Monday, she had to disclose that she was pregnant. When she revealed this information, the doctors weren't quite sure what to do, considering that the form of cancer she had was quite aggressive (even though it was stage one).
The problem was that her cancer was the hormonal type and being pregnant would increase hormone production, which would then make the cancer spread much faster.
They suggested an abortion, which was something that she was considering herself.
"I signed the termination of pregnancy documents so that we could move forward with the cancer treatment plan that was already in place, which included and would still include the double mastectomy, radiotherapy and chemotherapy."
Yet another twist in the tale
Being pregnant at this time was not ideal for Jade. At this point she had not yet discovered that she was, in actual fact, pregnant with twins.
Jade says that her husband didn't agree with her decision to not keep the baby. "He is a very spiritual individual and he doesn't believe in abortion. It was a decision I made on my own and he was heartbroken by that."
"But at that point, I decided that I needed to survive for my other children that I have right now."
It wasn't an easy choice to make.
"It was absolutely devastating."
But fate would once again intervene. When they were supposed to do the termination of pregnancy, the double mastectomy and the chest reconstruction surgery, things would change.
When Jade was wheeled into surgery, she was the last person scheduled for the day. Because the doctors ran out of operating time (theatres often have a set amount of operating hours), they decided that they'd just cut the cancer out on that day and do nothing else.
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"They scheduled my termination of pregnancy for one week later. So when the time came, I went on my own because my husband said that he couldn't come with me, but would support me afterwards."
When I ask her if this caused any strain on her marriage she says no because they've always been open with each other and that she would never expect him to come with her when she's essentially getting rid of his child.
"So I went to the clinic - and was very ambivalent about my decision. I kept looking for and asking for a sign from God to find out whether or not this was the right thing to do."
"We needed to do a scan to determine medicine and method we were going to use for termination. So the nurse sets me up and gets me ready for an ultra sound and asks me if I want to know anything since the ultra sound doesn't face me - like it normally does for pregnant women."
"She turned the screen to me and told me that I'm carrying twins."
The road forward
"I was shocked when I found out and saw the little heartbeats on the screen. And that was the moment I decided that I'm not doing this and that I'm leaving right now."
But what would happen to the babies now that she's made the decision to keep them? Jade's biggest concern at that point was if her children were actually okay seeing that she's already been undergoing chemo treatments.
"The nurse called her senior in order to discuss what they could do to monitor the babies, who seemed to be fine at the moment, which is at odds with what I've heard from the doctors that referred me to have the babies terminated as they told me that the fetuses weren't viable because of what was done to them."
It was then decided that the babies would be monitored carefully - particularly how they grow. The moment that any deformities would occur, then the possibility of a medical termination would be brought up again.
"So I went home with the news and the decision that I would not just fight for my life, but for theirs as well. My husband was ecstatic."
The road ahead would not be easy though, but Jade was resilient in the face of her struggles and had a strong and solid support structure.
"I took this information to the doctors and I faced a lot of pressure from them to actually proceed with the termination since the cancer was such a difficult one and because my hormones were elevated because of my pregnancy."
A lot of research was done following the revelations, but even so, Jade's pregnancy wasn't all that easy.
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She was tired all the time - the chemo often left her feeling drained.
She just wanted to sleep all the time, even though she had to still pay attention to her other boys. Her pregnancy also made her feel uncomfortable and was painful at times because she is so petite.
And to make matters worse, she was also in between a time period where her business was just beginning to take off.
She never gave up hope and the children continued to grow and develop beautifully. Today she's the mom of two healthy twins, in addition to her older boys. Her business is booming and she's loving being a mother and says the whole process was absolutely worth it.
Jade is also in remission.
Her advice to people battling cancer?
"The advice that I'd give is to allow yourself to be scared, but to not be ruled by fear. Be afraid but be brave at the same time."
"Keep pushing forward and surround yourself with positive people because a lot of the time other people will hear your diagnosis and then go into a state of depression themselves."
"Surround yourself with people who will rally around you and who will support you no matter what. Invest in a smoothie machine (it was such a life saver for me) and to go out and laugh and be yourself."
"Most importantly, remember to fight the battle on your own terms. Find mechanisms that are personal to you and use it to boost yourself through the hardest times in your life."
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