Our Survivors' Stories

Brave cancer survivors share their experiences of fighting cancer and their key learnings. Be inspired by their words of wisdom, hope and support.

Vivienne refuses to let a brain tumour removal stop her creativity

In July, the popular White River Gallery exhibited Vivienne Lawrence's art - mixed medium paintings and screen prints. The exhibition comes only three years after Vivienne had a cancerous brain tumour removed. The tumour caused loss of function of her dominant right arm and hand.

Little Mighty Mack is cancer free!

On 13 May 2021, Mackenzie "Mighty Mack" Friedman was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The four-month-old needed urgent treatment and a bone marrow transplant, which she had in early January 2022. 100 days after the transplant, Mackenzie was declared cancer free.

Princess Nakedi is a triple negative breast cancer survivor

Princess Nakedi was so excited about 2020 and had been carefully planning her big 50th birthday bash a year in advance. But the universe obviously had other ideas because a month before lockdown, she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer.

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor, Alexia: "I'm now ready to take on the world!"

Alexia Raine Oliver started feeling ill soon after beginning her final year of medicine in February 2018. She was 23 at the time. Realising that something was seriously wrong when her symptoms rapidly deteriorated,the last thing she expected was a diagnosis of cancer.

Alison Tucker's sanity-saving tips on navigating breast cancer

When Alison Tucker was diagnosed with breast cancer she made the conscious decision to handle the ensuing uncertainty with as much positive thought and action as possible. Here she shares the key practices that reinforced her sanity throughout her cancer treatment.

"Turning my lemon (breast cancer) into lemonade"

When Alison Tucker was diagnosed with breast cancer she made the conscious decision to handle the ensuing uncertainty with as much positive thought and action as possible. Alison not only achieved this ideal but also managed to capture her mindset in her new book.

Chris Bateman: The grace of adversity - my cancer journey

63-year-old Chris Bateman was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in November 2019. Chris is based in Cape Town, is married to Suz and has two daughters - Hannah (12) and Kate (9). Now on the road to full recovery from stage one esophageal cancer, he shares his story in his own words.

Beating the odds: lessons from a doctor and cancer survivor

Dr Lindy Dickson-Hall, a Capetonian mother of three, doctor and University of Cape Town medical microbiology TB researcher, is now 10 years into remission after being diagnosed with stage IV (advanced) colorectal cancer shortly after completing medical school.


"I say thank you every day that I'm still here" - Michael Kirkhoff

Eight years ago, super-fit building contractor and former Half Ironman competitor Michael Kirkhoff found himself lagging behind rivals in competitions and fun rides. He only started to understand why three years later, when he was diagnosed with leukaemia.


"I went into warrior mode within minutes of hearing my diagnosis"

Dr Mariam Seedat said her first thoughts about her breast cancer diagnosis were: "I cannot be sick, my baby is in matric and he needs me, and that our aunt Moona is close to death's door in hospital, who would take care of her?" Her diagnosis, it seems, was an opportunity for altruism.


Dr Ronel Smit reflects on surviving two unrelated cancers

Ronel Smit has bravely faced both chronic myeloid leukaemia in 2008, and stage 2 breast cancer nearly ten years later, in 2017. Here, she shares her remarkable story of survival, and offers advice to others on a similar journey.


Surviving three cancer diagnoses to marry the love of her life

Since 2013, Anneke Stocker has hung onto her seat in a rollercoaster ride with cancer. She has survived Stage 4 non-Hodgkin's B-cell lymphoma cancer of her digestive tract and a bone-marrow transplant in 2018. And, in May 2019, Anneke got married!


Reyaan's cancer detected after his motorbike accident

At age 26, Reyaan was a muaythai boxing champion at the peak of his career, when he had a serious accident. A CAT scan done during subsequent treatment revealed a brain tumour he'd otherwise have missed. Reyaan has survived to become a cancer warrior.


Bone marrow transplant saves Thinus' life

Bone-marrow stem cell transplant recipient, Thinus Janse Van Rensburg, has survived Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma - twice. Discovery's cover gave him both top medical care and his salary in full for two years - giving him time to focus on healing.


Surviving six recurring cancer diagnoses to help other patients

Howard Butler, a 46-year-old head and neck cancer survivor, is a cancer prevention and patient-support advocate. He's outlived six bouts of cancer and lives to help reduce South Africa's globally high incidence of Head and Neck or oropharyngeal cancers.


"Cancer transformed my life" - Penelope Howie

A country and western song by Tim McGraw kept two-time breast cancer survivor Penelope Howie, emotionally strong through multiple, challenging treatments. Written after McGraw's dad died of cancer, "Live like you were dying" stems from advice to his son.


Prostate cancer survivor erases stigma of cancer

In 61-year-old Zephania Msimang's community in Katlehong - and many other disadvantaged African settings - cancer means death. So, when his biopsy came back positive for prostate cancer in early 2016, he thought his world had ended.


From two children with cancer, to the COWS

For Kerrin and Grant Bain, losing Jessica (their 20-month-old daughter) to cancer was gut-wrenching. Two years later they heard that their daughter Georgia, had brain cancer. The journey led them to starting The Cows, fundraising for CHOC.


Learning from adversity: A Breast Cancer survivor's story

Norma Moller shares her experiences during her rollercoaster cancer treatment journey that has left her wiser, more aware, more disciplined, and an expert when it comes to her own body.


Laurie Gaum: A spiritual journey of cancer survival

Surviving cancer physically is sometimes only half the battle. The other half is the post-treatment journey. Laurie Gaum shares his emotional lung cancer survival journey.


Sisters fight Cervical Cancer together

It's hard to imagine that cervical cancer affected the lives of two sisters in the same year - and how differently. Alrita Groenewald, 41, was given less than 30% chance of survival, while her sister Tessa Supra, 46, chose to silently carry the burden of her subsequent diagnosis.


Cancer diagnosis? Make a plan and take control!

Linda Greeff, an oncology social worker and cancer survivor herself, believes that a patient's long-term survival is most impacted by the first treatment intervention. She shares her insight from her own experience with being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.


Sherene's stomach ache diagnosed as Stage 2 ovarian cancer

For Sherene Grobler, a 52-year-old Witbank grandmother, the shock of hearing that tumours removed from her ovary, urethra and bladder were cancerous was cushioned by instant support from her family and church friends.


Surviving breast cancer - bereaved mother of three shares her incredible story of hope

The deaths in three consecutive years of those Mickey lived with - her in-laws and then her husband, Mandla, followed by her own shock diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer would have been too much for most women.


11-year old Hendrik Stopforth beats Leukaemia

Hendrik Stopforth's Acute Myelodysplastic Leukaemia (AML), was a two-year trial by fire during which his family bonded strongly, received huge support from extended family and was financially buoyed by the generosity of strangers.


Living with an incurable cancer

With his diagnosis carrying a median survival rate of four years, Fareed Bruintjies, 47, accidentally bumped into a patient who'd survived the same cancer for twelve years, in the chemotherapy room.

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