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Samantha Galliet

samantha galliet

Samantha Galliet - Motivational Speaker, Inspirational Speaker - Cape Town

Listening to the challenges Samantha has battled through for the past year as a result of her cancer, it’s hard to believe that she remains so positive and upbeat.

In February 2005 at the age of 29, Samantha detected a lump in her right breast which was acutely painful to the touch. As the pain coincided with her monthly cycle she thought it was a gland and therefore did not take it seriously.

The pain continued for the next three-months and she realised that it could be something to be concerned about. In the beginning of June she discussed this with her boss and was urged to consult a doctor.

Acting on this advice somewhat reluctantly, Samantha made an appointment for a mammogram.

Following the mammogram and sonar, the radiologist informed a shocked Samantha that a solid lump was definitely visible.

A shaken Samantha was referred to a surgeon, who informed her that she would have to undergo a lumpectomy to determine whether the lump was malignant or not.

Four-days there after Samantha received a call from the surgeon requesting that she come in to the office the following day to receive the results.

Samantha was diagnosed with breast cancer on 6 June 2005. She will never forget the moment of truth, “As I opened the door to the doctor’s office I knew I had cancer – the doctor’s face said it all.”

The diagnosis left Samantha feeling numb: “The possibility of death entered my head! These were things I had never even thought about before.” The doctor spoke for over an hour yet Samantha heard nothing.

Unbelievably, it was under these circumstances that she had to make a life altering decision, whether to undergo a mastectomy or partial removal of the breast.

The doctor also informed Samantha that the tumour was 2cm in diameter and classified it as stage-two cancer. Hers was an extremely aggressive cancer. On a scale of two-to-nine (two being weakest; nine strongest) it ranked as an eight.

Samantha was thrown into ‘fight or flight’ mode. She saw the cancer as the enemy and wanted it out of her body. She opted for a mastectomy.

The surgeon asked her to book herself in for a radical mastectomy. She did this in a state of complete automation. “It was completely surreal,” she says.

Samantha’s mother, Jill Galliét, was beside her during the procedure at Carstenhof Clinic. Samantha confides: “The mastectomy was not as difficult as I expected as I have never based my personality on external features such as breasts. There were far greater challenges lying ahead."

A port was inserted into her chest to prepare for chemotherapy. Five-months of the most strenuous chemotherapy followed.

Samantha’s oncologist administered the toughest course of chemo in order to ensure no recurrences.

The chemotherapy left Samantha exhausted. All her hair, as well as her eyelashes and eyebrows fell out. “I bought some stunning wigs! It made me feel better.” The process seemed to drag on forever. Hours spent lying in bed and on the couch, unable to move. “I felt as though someone had sucked my life force from me.” Even worse were the neurological side effects. Samantha’s memory was obliterated. She found it hard to complete day-to-day tasks. “People completely underestimate the effect of ‘chemo-brain,’ she says.

Currently in remission, Samantha reflects on this traumatic experience: “The first time I really dealt with the fact that I had cancer was when I walked into the chemo ward. There were a dozen people around me. Most of them extremely ill. It was such an energy-draining environment.”

While Samantha remained mentally strong throughout this traumatic experience and was able to rely on the unparalleled support from her loved ones, it was often difficult to express her feelings to those closest to her: “Cancer is the enemy, but ironically, your own body creates it – that is such a difficult concept to comprehend.”

When asked how cancer has affected her life, Samantha remarks: “My life will never be the same again! You can’t go through something like this and go back to who you were. It has been a journey of transformation. ”

Despite being confronted with her own mortality, Samantha continues to maintain an optimistic outlook on life. “Cancer has allowed me to grow so much! It’s prompted a spiritual awakening in me. In fact, cancer is the best thing that ever happened to me – it’s whacked me on the head and given me a wake-up call to life!”

Not only has Samantha experienced a new lease on life, but she believes that her experience with cancer has freed her: “Cancer is so much about control, as it completely takes this away. What you realise is that you actually have to go with the flow, there is nothing you can do. For this reason, cancer is a gift, because it’s given me the freedom to live – I’m no longer a control freak!”

Samantha’s sunny disposition and bubbly personality inspires all around her. She says this to fellow patients: “Be real – whatever that means for you. In our society we are so driven to be something that we are not, that you can lose your own identity. Everybody is different – don’t feel pressurised to be like others. Just trust in the process and try and find yourself – it’s your journey.”

A direct descendent of Florence Nightingale, Samantha has taken it upon herself to proactively help others in their fight against cancer. “The change that has come out of cancer has allowed me to create something that I am passionate about – Pink Link – a breast cancer advocacy group, which helps to generate awareness about breast cancer, especially in younger women.”

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Samantha Galliet - Motivational Speaker, Inspirational Speaker - Cape Town

 
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