Breast Cancer Awareness month Oct 14, 2021

From a devastating diagnosis To finding my inner strength

This Breast Cancer Month, we’re reminding you of our importance of knowing the signs, knowing the risks and knowing how to take action through our 29-year Breast Cancer Promise.

Independent Business Owner, Suzette Vice from South Africa shares her story of recognising the signs and symptoms and taking action to help raise awareness.

In January 2015, I found a lump in my breast while having a shower. It was completely by accident that I found it, but I immediately sensed that there was a problem. At the time, I was an Avon Justine Area Sales Manager and I would regularly remind other ladies - my customers, Beauty Bosses, and Business Owners – to check their breasts themselves or attend their routine mammograms. I shared information on how to self-check as much as I could through online videos and other breast cancer educational material.

I went for a mammogram after finding the lump and following several other tests, I was diagnosed with hormone triple-negative breast cancer. It was the devastating news. I never thought I would be diagnosed with breast cancer, let alone one of the most heart-breaking forms of the disease. Hormone triple-negative breast cancer is an aggressive breast cancer type that affects around 15% of those diagnosed and currently has no targeted treatment. Luckily for me, early detection saved my life, but many women are not as lucky. I was aware of the signs, the risks and how to take action.

I had to go for an operation after which I spent a week in ICU, which is not the norm. Two months later I underwent months of chemotherapy and all I could do was have hope, believe that I will overcome the challenging period in my life. For me, it was important to stand tall and show the world what I was made of – a strong, courageous, powerful, woman who is not ordinary, but remarkable! It was a difficult time for me, my family and my team but staying strong for them was all I could think of. Amid all of it, they were my source of strength and I drew from their energy, positivity, faith, and hope.

My family was there for me every step of the way, my faith gave me hope and I kept soldiering on. As a seed of motivation, my daughter created a chemotherapy visitation chart for me so that I could mark off every chemotherapy session completed. This motivated me as I could see how close I was to completing the last session.

I knew that I was destined for great things; my love and compassion for people and business kept me thinking about my team. I thought about how everyone was doing, how I was going to work around it all, helping them remain focused and helping them to grow and sustain their business so that they can earn money and provide for their loved ones.

When I found strength, I continued with my work. I learnt how to use online platforms to recruit and train my teams. I did everything I could to reach potential Beauty Bosses and customers online. I created something beautiful for myself and my business kept growing and I kept achieving my goals. I convinced myself that settling for average was not me. I triumphed through adversity and did not allow any negative perceptions of the disease to cloud my emotions or mind.

Should you be traveling this testing journey or know someone who is, please seek and welcome support from a medical professional, talk to your loved ones about how you feel, and support those that are faced with the situation. By the end of October, it will be my 6th year in remission and I am enjoying my life, grateful for and welcome every new day.

My advice to all women and men, young and old, is to check their breasts and chest at least once a month. If there is anything you find and are unsure of, be sure to go and see your doctor.