East London-born writer and columnist Kazeka Mashologu Kuse battled stage-three breast cancer and lived to tell the tale.
She has documented her story in a tell-all book, which was launched this week.
Her book, Brave Heart with Red Lipstick talks about her journey since her cancer diagnosis after finding a lump in her right breast in March last year. She also writes about fighting the disease and her victory at going into remission.
The 32-year-old founder of entertainment company Daring Media, who spoke to the Saturday Dispatch, said if it were not for her faith in God, she would have died from stress after being diagnosed.
“I had watched the disease take my mother, so being diagnosed with cancer spoke to a fear of death. It was a horrific, confusing and nerve-wracking time.”
She said her time in hospital had inspired the title of her book.
“After being instructed to wear nothing but the hospital gown, I would apply the brightest red lipstick I could find in my bag. It became the joke of the ward. An anaesthetist at the hospital would come in every morning and say ‘hello brave heart’, did you sleep with red lipstick on?’
“For me the red lipstick was so that people would recognise me if I died on the operating table. I wanted to look glam in case of my death,” she said.
Although her fight against the disease has yielded positive results, it has left a permanent mark on her body; she had had to have a breast removed.
“As a self-confessed feminist, I used to believe that a breast is a just a breast; get over it.
“But once I lost my breast, I knew that consciousness came from a place of inexperience. I really felt less of a woman. I felt deeply isolated and lonely.
“Then there was the issue of dating again. Who wants to be that girl that says ‘dude, I have one boob, is that offer for dinner still on the table’?” She said to embrace her new body, she braved it all in a boudoir photoshoot.
“I am shocked at how the media caught wind of that photoshoot. I literally spoke to over six million South Africans in a matter of two days,” Kuse said.
Kuse said she has unknowingly become an activist and an inspiration to women young and old.
“I am living on borrowed time and therefore have no time to waste. Now I feel that I’m at the throne rather than behind it. I am deeply nervous but excited at the same time.”
She said her book is aimed at cancer and mastectomy patients trying to find healing.
“It is a universal story of going through the fire and coming out victorious.”
Brave Heart with Red Lipstick is available online on Amazon, and will be launched in Port Elizabeth at the end of this month. — firstname.lastname@example.org