I beat breast cancer while writing matric

 
 
 

It was the beginning of matric. Seventeen-year-old Jenna Skews was ready for the future. Filled with excitement, her health was the last thing on her mind. One day, fiddling with her necklace, Skews brushed past a lump in her breast. “I knew that it wasn’t right,” she says. “But I never thought it could be cancerous.” Doctors diagnosed Skews with a malignant phyllodes tumour, a rare form of cancer. While her friends embarked on their journeys of finishing school, Skews was undergoing surgery. “I didn’t even know what a mastectomy was,” she says. Thrown into a terrifying situation, she discovered her inner courage.

In the face of pain, Skews pushed through her last months of school. With the support of her family, friends, and the Breast Health Foundation, she found the strength to accept what was happening. Fortunately, Skews didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation. Six years on, she remains cancer-free. “After being given a second chance in life, I knew I wanted to do positive work,” she says. Today, Skews works with the same organisation that guided her. “I want to give back to the community that gave me hope,” she says.

Skews’ focus is educating girls about self-examinations. Having fought cancer before finishing school, she understands the distress of illness at a young age. “I hope my story can encourage women to look after their health,” she says. As she spreads her knowledge, Skews is encouraging optimism among those facing the disease. She knows that everyone has the resilience and drive to bring light to the world. “We all have a lot of love to give,” Skews says.