The singer and songwriter Babette Labuschagne was in the prime of her life when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020 during the pandemic lockdown at the age of 32.
The diagnosis was a shock as she did not feel sick or bad at all. Babette tells in RNews’s studio that she was on her way to the pharmacy that morning for a flu shot when she felt a lump in her chest in the shower.
“I didn’t think much of it, but when I got to the clinic, I asked a sister to do an examination. She said the lump felt hard to her and I should go for a scan with a radiologist instead.”
A mammogram and a biopsy later, Babette was diagnosed with aggressive triple-negative breast cancer.
Her family has no history of cancer. “It was the first time in my life I had to deal with cancer.”
She says she just stayed in bed and cried for the first three days after the diagnosis. “When they tell you that, it feels unreal. It felt like my soul was not in my body. You are also pushed through a treatment process so quickly and you get so much information, you don’t really know what to do with it.”
Her family, who are all very close to each other, each dealt with the news differently. “My mother was my emotional support, but you don’t always realize that the people around you take it worse than you take it yourself. They just won’t always tell you that.”
She lost every hair on her body due to the harsh chemotherapy she received. She received four rounds of the so-called Red Devil chemo, and 16 rounds of another type of chemo. She also underwent a double mastectomy.
Babette says that she resumed her honors degree studies earlier that year and eventually had to stop to fight the cancer.
Today, Babette is cancer-free, but her life was forever changed by the diagnosis. Yet the path she walked with her diagnosis now inspires her new music.
The producers of the VIA program, Herman and the ladiesin which food expert and chef Herman Lensing talks to cancer survivors, approached Babette to write the theme song for the show.
This Afrikaans track, entitled “Fearless”, is from Babette’s pen and is the only Afrikaans song on her latest album, entitled Unbreasted.
However, Babette has a long history in the South African music industry. She says she was only interested in singing as a little girl and later started taking singing lessons.
In high school, she already got contracts to write songs and perform. her album, X girlwas issued in 2008.
“These days I write much more hopeful, where in the past I was more sad, because I know you can get through bad things.
“The journey with cancer has made me deeper, wiser and more compassionate. It carries over into my music.”
“Fearless” is available on all digital platforms.
Herman and the ladies can be seen Wednesdays at 18:00 on VIA, DStv channel 147.
- Listen to the full interview with Babette Labuschagne at the top of the article.