‘One Step at a time and not giving up’
Q&A with Branka Mazej about her recovery after Breast Cancer. Branka is part of our Sported team and therefor this topic is close to our hearts
Branka you were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, how did you find out?
It was just before the summer vacation. I had done my regular mammogram and breast Ultra Sound. Since I had a case of breast cancer in my family, I had regular screenings.
Do you remember your first response to the diagnoses, how did this make you feel?
Despite the fact that my chances were higher, I was still startled. You’re never prepared for such news. I was nervous every time I did the screening. One good thing of regular checkups is early diagnose and this is so important to how the cancer can be treated. In my case surgery was sufficient. I was active in sports (cycling 4-5 times a week), my nutrition was good, I felt I was in my healthiest state; but guess what, I had cancer. It’s a silent disease, doesn’t hurt, it just shows on the Ultra Sound Screen.
The knowledge you had breast cancer and the subsequent medical ordeal how did this all impact your life and in particular your sport and exercise regime?
Nothing changed before the surgery. I kept cycling. I wanted to be fit, so my recovery would be quicker. After surgery that’s different story. I was lucky that I didn’t need chemo therapy or radiation. So I would say recovery was the hardest part for me, especially dealing with frustrations such as being unable to do simple things as brushing my hair, or getting out of bed by myself.
The road of treatments and recovery is long and intense how did you manage to get through this, what helped you?
Motivation, support of my family, friends, my sports “family”. Cycling has always been my passion and I wanted it back, as soon as possible. I was in charge of my life, not the cancer!
In how far do you view yourself as recovered, or healed?
I can firmly say I’m recovered. But there is always a bit of fear of recurrence.
Do you view your sport and exercise regime in a different light, has your approach changed?
No. There were limitations at first of what I could do of course, disappointments of before and now. But that’s a road to recovery. With motivation and a goal in sight, anything is possible. There are plenty of examples of women and men recovering after cancer achieving better results than before.
People often say that going through cancer, has made them approach life in a different way, how is that for you?
I don’t take life and people around me for granted any more. It’s a good motivation to make changes in your life and reach higher with your goals.
What would your advice be for women who are now going through cancer treatment?
Take one step at the time and don’t give up!
Thank you Branka for sharing your story this Pinktober month. Branka is a well known face in the cycling and triathlon scene and is currently working from Slovenia.
Q&A by Rianca van Dijke