It is often noted in this community that once one is diagnosed with breast cancer, they have it for life. Even if a survivor, the mental, physical and emotional toll of the disease can long outlast treatment and clear scans. It’s a sentiment Andrea Magni echoes. A native South African, she was diagnosed in January 2017 with DCIS, having three DCIS tumors in her right breast. She received a double mastectomy.
For Andrea, this was not her first experience with breast cancer. Her mother had been diagnosed and ultimately passed away from complications from the disease. Even with her family history, Andrea was somewhat surprised with her diagnosis, but understood the insidious nature of the disease: “it wasn’t a why me? It was a why not me? situation”. Through her experience and that of those around her, it has become abundantly clear that there is no rhyme or reason for the disease’s choice of women.
Andrea is able to see the positive and notes that angels appear in the most random of places. When she was about to get her surgery, she confided in a client who enthusiastically responded “good for you!” It shocked Andrea, but her positivity and motivation around Andrea’s treatment decision helped Andrea to feel more confident about the circumstances.
Throughout treatment, in an effort to keep her mental health in check, Andrea prioritized movement, which some days “simply meant getting out of bed,” and through it all, her main motivator was her two children. When her 9 year old daughter asked if she would need the same surgery as her mom one day, Andrea was honest with her saying, “I don’t know, but if you do I will do everything I can to be there.”
Now in the United States for six years, Andrea is still passionate about improving breast cancer resources back home in South Africa. She notes how few hospitals are equipped to give mammograms, so she sits on a board of a company aiming to bring mobile mammograms to women. Reflecting on rural South Africa’s lack of hospitals or oncology care, Andrea is thankful the United States has more research, funding and public language surround breast cancer. She, like so many of us, hope such resources mean a cure for the next generation.