‘You are too young to have cancer’


Marlinné Pienaar writes:

I am now 24 years old, a computer application technology teacher at Monument High School and married to Francois Pienaar.

Herewith my story about the road I had to walk with breast cancer. I think it’s appropriate for the month of October.

“You are too young to have cancer.”

Plus, 2022 was supposed to be our year because it was finally the year we waited so long for because our wedding was planned for the 1st of October.

In May 2022 on a quiet Sunday I discovered that I had a lump in my right breast. Immediately I panicked and went to an emergency doctor. The doctor examined me and said that the lump is normal at my age, because you cannot get breast cancer when you are 23 years old. He then sent me for a sonar which came back normal.

A few weeks after that, the lump started to hurt, I became uncomfortable and my skin discolored and that’s when I decided that I should go for a second opinion. Again being told that this is normal and I am just “paranoid”. Anyone knows if there is a mistake. I knew something was wrong.

After my third opinion with dr. Annemie Koekemoer I am referred from Robert Broom Medical Center in Krugersdorp to prof. Carol-Ann Benn at Milpark.

I had to do a sonar again, after the results a biopsy and on August 31, 2022 – a day before it would be a month before our wedding – I was diagnosed with phase 2 triple negative breast cancer.

It felt like my life was falling apart. I still have so much I want to do, I would like to start a family and I have so many goals I still want to achieve.

Not too little, I had to go for many tests and doctor’s examinations which at that time felt like it would not end.

I had to get injections to protect me so that one day we can start a family. It was the most painful thing I’ve ever been through.

Two weeks before the wedding I have my first chemotherapy. All I can remember was that I was incredibly nauseous, it burned me and that I got a funny metallic taste in my mouth.

I then started looking for wigs because I knew what was coming… Mike and Liz in Linden came to my rescue where I was able to find two beautiful wigs.

I then cut my hair in a short bob style.

It is October 1, 2022, and so our wedding day arrives where I married the wig. Our day was blessed and beautiful. The night we got into our room and I took the wig off, the first clump of hair fell out.

I remember how I started to get anxious and how my husband kept me calm.

We left on Monday 3 October on our honeymoon at Magoebaskloof and decided there to shave my hair. We couldn’t find anyone to do it for us, so my wonderful husband did it for me. It had been very hard for him.

After that I went for six rounds of chemotherapy every three weeks. After the second chemo session, my cancer had already shrunk by 90%.

In February 2023 I underwent a lumpectomy where the cancer was removed and tried to function for a while with three drains in the chest.

Six weeks after my surgery, in April, I started radiation and had to complete 31 sessions.

For now I am in remission and will see the doctor again in November for my follow-up appointment and tests.

This path I had to walk was not easy at all, but I got closer to the Lord. My family, friends and work colleagues at Monument High School supported me during this time.

If I can give advice to anyone: Never doubt yourself. You can, you want and you go.