My name is Zsa Zsa Soffe.  I was born in Zimbabwe and had the immense privilege of growing up on a beautiful farm on which my father raised cattle for beef and grew maize and tobacco.  I had a wonderful childhood and although I’ve now lived in the UK for nearly seventeen years, I carry an enormous debt of gratitude for the charmed upbringing I had – freedom and space around me, a close-knit family based on wholesome living, traditional values, discipline, a respect for authority and a respect for the land and environment.  It’s strange to think of myself now as a city girl, and yet, the earthy, grounded farmer’s daughter in me is never far away.

I am single, independent and strong-minded.  Determination and downright doggedness are in me, as is a tendency to be over-analytical, which can be utterly inhibiting!  I am also an endless optimist and I count my ability to find the funny in life as an exceptional and utterly essential life survival skill.  My capacity to empathise with others, a fundamental interest I have in other people and an innate desire to connect are parts of my character that have afforded me the most fulfilling friendships and encounters along the way.  This blog is just a new way of connecting….



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What’s in a year?

What’s in a year?  The easiest answer is to state the facts – twelve months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours.  Although I should warn you Maths is not my strong point.  Today, a year ago, I sat in my consultant’s room and heard those dreaded words, “I’m sorry, you have breast cancer.” Stage 2, invasive ductal breast cancer, to be precise.

I sat in that room and went numb for a few moments.  It was just me, him and the breast cancer nurse.  I asked questions, but have no recollection of what exactly I asked nor what the answers were.  All I know is that there was no re-wind button.  There was only moving forward.  No other option.  The machine was in motion.  Two days later I had another nasty biopsy procedure on my right breast as there were concerns about that one.  Fortunately unfounded.  And, exactly a week after learning of my diagnosis, I went under the knife to have the offending lump and some lymph nodes removed from my left side.  A few weeks after that, another minor surgical procedure to have a portacath inserted into the right side of my chest – this would be the port of entry for months of chemotherapy and the site from which countless blood samples woud be taken.  And blood transfusions given.

Twelve months have gone by and I’ve got through surgeries, chemotherapy, faintings, debilitating fatigue and general apathy, pneumonia, partial loss of heart function (now recovered), radiotherapy and a raft of other tests.  My body’s been scanned and prodded.  I’ve even done the unthinkable and got tattoed!  (just kidding – tiny blue dot tattoos somewhere on my boobs to help align the radiotherapy machines) And I’ve got my boobs out on demand so many times I’ve become utterly blase about it.  Here I am, still standing, feeling great, and I’m full of hope and humour and the promise of good things to come.

A year is a unit of time.  But a year can be measured by so much more than the units of hours, days and months.  My measures for the past year are in the renewed health, vitality and sense of wellbeing I now have and the inner strength that got me through it all.  In the love and support of close friends and family, the great care from all the medical professionals and incredible compassion, understanding and support from colleagues and bosses at work. It’s been a good year… I can say that because my experience of cancer has opened my eyes to how much I have to live for.

PS.  It’s been a busy couple of months, hence no writing for all this time.

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