Percy Felix, our dad
I am a biomedical technologist by profession. During my time practicing, I have tested everything one can test that comes from the human body – urine, pus, sputum, blood, tissue, etc. I majored in histology, the study of the microscopic structure of tissues. My decision to go into this field of study was specifically to help those with cancer. At the tender age of 12 years I lost my first love to lung cancer – my daddy, heartbeat, my everything – Percy Felix. I knew from that moment that I wanted to make a difference in the lives of people, those close and those who became close just by knowing them by way of a hospital ward, room number, age, gender and sometimes even their address which would be written on a slip of paper and stuck on the white buckets containing their tissue or sometimes, an entire limb.
At the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) during my internship (2007/8).
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever stop to think that the same knowledge I had gained I would use to diagnose my own, let alone my own husband – my safe place, my lover, friend, father to our beautiful sons Zach (7) and Eli (9). Tony, whom you all have come to know by reading his blogs.
The day the realization of an inverted nipple presented itself to me when he stepped out of the shower, I got cold shivers down my spine!
“How could it be? What was I seeing? Is it a bad joke?
Why would he just leave his nipple like that? Was he playing with it just to freak me out?” All these thoughts were rushing through my mind at the speed of lightning! Tony obviously did not have a clue!
My worst was having to ask the difficult question, “what did you do to your nipple?” Tony responded by saying he didn’t do anything to it, of course. I then carried on as normal and just blocked it out. As the days, weeks and months went by, I noticed the nipple did not go back to how it was supposed to be.
I had to come up with a plan to get it checked out – but how?
Tony was always busy and I tried my best to protect him by not alarming him to the fact that he could have cancer.
On a particular day I noticed a mole on his back. He has many light brown moles but this one had turned black. This was it! I had to act fast but, at the same time, I was beating myself up for not speaking up sooner. The signs were there and I ignored it.
I told him about the mole (obviously because he couldn’t see it). Still, he was oblivious to the fact that I was panicking inside and needed to get him help as soon as possible.
Zach, our youngest was ill and he had to see our GP. At the same time I thought let me use this opportunity to get the Dr to look at the mole. So, whilst chatting to the Dr I asked him to take a look at Tony’s back and just set my mind at ease that everything is ok; the mole is just a mole turned black. Instead our GP advised that we see a dermatologist. I then went ahead and made the appointment. I was so happy when the dermatologist said it looks ok, nothing to worry about, he will remove it and just send for routine testing.
Phew! How relieved I was but scared because I know what that test would entail and that it could still come back as positive for cancer. Once the mole was removed, I took the gap and asked the dermatologist to look at the nipple.
He looked at it and looked at me and I knew…. this isn’t good.
But for Tony’s sake I remained calm and collected, even when he said “there is a lump behind the nipple”.
Picking up from Tony’s last blog, and knowing that the cancer has spread to his lung, proved how fast time goes by.
I feel like I am on a train traveling faster than the subways can handle.
There is no turning back.
I can’t get off.
This is my reality.
My husband has breast cancer!
I can only do what any wife would do: support, listen, absorb for the both of us what the medical professionals were saying. The surgeon, radiologist, oncologist, receptionists, even the nurses as we journeyed through one of the hardest times of my life.
How would we tell our boys?
What was I going to say to them if they asked “is daddy going to die?”
Tony handled it like the hero dad that he is! But still…. I was dying inside, not knowing where to from here and still having to act strong for his sake as “commissioned” by everyone to do!
If only they knew I was at my weakest!
Life in the Venturini home has not been easy. Trying to keep everything as before and continuing to live as the wife, mother, career woman, student, daughter, sister and friend became increasingly more overwhelming. Many days I didn’t even know what I had done for that day.
This is a long piece – my side of the story up to now.
It’s not even the half of it but rest assured, I’m getting there.
God’s Got This – He has to whatever that may mean because whom else could I trust.
My faith is strong but also very real!
I sing – it soothes me, gives me some normality in the chaos I find myself in daily with the battle in my mind!
I hold on to our wedding song I chose for the ceremony… Our Best is yet to Come! And this I believe.
Here are the lyrics: Your Latter Will Be Greater (Album: Israel & New Breed – New Season)
Verse 1: Your latter will be greater than your past // And you will be blessed more than you could ask // Despite all that has been done // The best is yet to come // And your latter will be greater // Your latter will be greater // Your latter will be greater, than the rest.
Section 2 : All things are possible, possible Possible, possible // All things are possible, possible // Possible, possible // And your latter will be greater, Your latter will be greater, Your latter will be greater than the rest.
Section 3 : The best is yet to come // The best is yet to come.Oh, the best, is yet, to come // The King is soon to come // The King is soon to come // Oh, the King is soon to come.
I particularly love section 2 of this song as I’ve witnessed God’s amazing power in my life.
I can only but place my hope and trust in the One who is higher than I.
All things are possible!
God’s Got This!
This plague is at the look-out point on Knysna Heads, Garden Route, South Africa. This is one of Tony’s favourite spots to visit whenever we are in that part of the country. It is a beautiful sight coupled with this fantastic reminder.