A Cancer warrior is making and donating beautiful hand-made hats for other patients around the country!
Cape Town, South Africa – Lori-Anne Vd Merwe Biebuyck is a 49 year old South African who was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer but decided – after losing her hair – to make hand made hats for herself and other cancer warriors around the country.
Lori’s ‘warrior journey’ started in September 2018 when she scheduled her annual mammogram appointment, taking two of her closest friends with her. They had all been friends for 35 years.
“I always take a friend or two with, you know, just in-case you get bad news. I had felt an uncomfortable something in my breast. Not typical of a lump. But deep inside I somehow knew it was going to be bad news.”
That Thursday she had 6 biopsies taken by her surgeon, an hour after the mammogram and the next day the histology biopsy results came back positive and the reality kicked in. Lori had cancer but the results did not show what type or how far it had spread. She had to spend an entire weekend trying to understand the news that had just been given to her.
Lori had lost her father to cancer in August that year and she was still mourning his loss and now this… the news was not easy to take in.
“It was a roller coaster ride of emotions. Crying, laughing and complete disbelief. I have been a Pilates instructor for 15 years and I consider myself healthy. I have never been in a hospital and I have never taken antibiotics… ever. It wasn’t easy.”
She managed to make it through to Monday, barely, and then found out that she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 HER2 positive breast cancer.
“HER2-positive breast cancer is a breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. In about 1 of every 5 breast cancers, the cancer cells have a gene mutation that makes an excess of the HER2 protein.”
Lori started treatment immediately and just 16 days in, after the fourth session of Chemotherapy, her hair started falling out. She had heard that some patients choose to wear head scarves during the process but she just couldn’t get them fitting right. A friend had heard what Lori was going through and decided to hand make her a beautiful chemo hat to wear.
Lori fell absolutely in love with the idea and loved the way the hat made her feel. She wanted more colours, and flowers, and styles to match her other clothes so started making them herself!
“A chemo hat is a hat intended for wear by a cancer patient who is losing, or has lost, his or her hair due to chemotherapy or radiation treatments. Chemo hats, also called chemo caps, are a gift made with love. They help people who feel uncomfortable with their hair loss to embrace a new sort of style. In that way, chemo caps can be both comforting and empowering.”
Within just a couple of the weeks, the determined South African realised that she had made over 120 hats that she wouldn’t be able to wear herself and decided to gift them to other cancer patients around the country. She started a Facebook page to share her journey with South Africans, while finding other cancer patients who may be in need of a beautiful hand made hat.
Lori has a big year ahead, with more chemotherapy sessions booked and a double mastectomy planned but is not stopping with her hand-made hats or her kind donations.
“This year is the year for me and cancer but I feel great. I feel great that I can wear my hats. I love to look good and the hats makes me feel good. They actually make me feel less sick!
And I want to make other people look and feel good too. “