National Cancer Survivor month | 30 June 2020
Mirose Laurencine: “Death was not an option and not even a thought at that point”
Today, June 30, Mirose Laurencine celebrates her 50th birthday. This birthday is very special for her as she is a cancer survivor. Seychelles NATION, in collaboration with the Cancer Concern Association (CCA), has the pleasure to publish the story of Mirose Laurencine. A survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer and survived, but even survivors have lasting effects on their lives left by the cancer, and this can affect them and their family in numerous ways. It is not easy for the survivors to talk about their experience and we are grateful to those who had the courage to share their stories with our readers.
Seychelles NATION: Please tell our readers who is Mirose?
Mirose Laurencine: I am a 50-year-old single mum to three gorgeous children – two young women and a young boy of 15 years. I am also grandmother to three awesome grandchildren. The 10th of 11 siblings, I am by profession an internal auditor. I grew up and went to school at Cascade. I did my post-graduate studies in the UK to become a Chartered and Certified Accountant.
Seychelles NATION: How and when did you discover you had cancer?
Mirose Laurencine: I was 24 years old and it was my then husband who noticed an unusual lump in my left breast. I was a student in the UK at that time, so I went to see a GP there, who advised that I wait for my menstrual cycle to start, to see if the lump is related, and to then refer me to a breast specialist. I did not return to see the doctor. I took my exams and then headed back to Seychelles for the Christmas holidays. My ex-husband insisted that I see Dr Jivan, who arranged for a biopsy that confirmed that the lump was indeed a cancer.
Seychelles NATION: What where your first reactions and how did you deal with it?
Mirose Laurencine: My first reaction was ‘I was going to die’. I knew nothing about cancer, except that it is life threatening. I knew of no one who has had cancer before. It took a while for me to digest the news. There were lots of tears and panic. But then I wiped my tears and decided that I needed to survive, not just for myself, but for the two baby girls who depended on me. They were 1 and a half and 3 years old at that time. I was determined to see them grow up and take their place in this life.
Seychelles NATION: What were your next steps?
Mirose Laurencine: Someone put me in contact with the late Suzy Chang Him, who made me realise that I can beat this thing and that not all is lost. Still a student in the UK at that time, I qualified for NHS, so I packed my samples and headed back there, where I started my treatment.
Seychelles NATION: What has helped besides chemotherapy and medicine to overcome cancer?
Mirose Laurencine: I had and still have an amazing support system within my family and one special friend that I have come to adopt as my sister. In the UK, I was also assigned a Macmillan breast care nurse (these people are angels). I did hypno healing and self-hypnosis to help focus my energy into healing my body. Despite the long and arduous journey, I stayed positive. I had already told myself that I am going to survive. Death was not an option and not even a thought at that point. I went on an alcohol free diet and limited my intake of red meat. And I prayed. I have always been religious but faced with my circumstances, the comfort I found in prayers was invaluable.
Seychelles NATION: For how long did you take medication and how long have you been cancer free?
Mirose Laurencine: I did six months of chemotherapy every three weeks and radiotherapy everyday for 6 weeks.
I have been cancer free for 26 years.
Seychelles NATION: Is there cancer in the family?
Mirose Laurencine: Yes, two older sisters – one who is also a survivor and one who, unfortunately, fell to the disease. They were both diagnosed after me. My sister who did not survive was diagnosed one month after me.
Seychelles NATION: What advice would you give to cancer patients and the public in general?
Mirose Laurencine: Stay aware and take note of changes in your body. Get tested early. Cancer can be cured. It needs to be tested early. And remember that in this day and age, medicine has progressed so far that a cancer diagnosis does not mean a death sentence.
Seychelles NATION: What kind of support network did you have?
Mirose Laurencine: My two young girls were in Seychelles with their father, who had the support of his family to care for them. I did not have to worry about them, they were being well cared for. In the UK I was living with my sister and her family. They cared for me and accompanied me throughout my treatments. During the low moments of my journey they were there with all the love and care in the world, my niece and nephew were there to make me smile and my sister to bully and guilt me into eating. And I could not be more thankful for the support and love they provided. My parents spent 6 months in the UK to be there for me, especially my mama Cherie. (She was also dealing with my older sister who lived in Italy, who was also sick with cancer at the same time). My then husband also made sacrifices to be there as much as he could, especially when I had to go back to the theater for a local wide excision. I did not have to worry about paying bills; I was still attending classes until the doctor advised against it. I had other siblings who visited during that time. All bringing with them lots and lots of love and care!
Seychelles NATION: How was your lifestyle affected and what was changed?
Mirose Laurencine: My lifestyle did not change as much as most would assume. I had always tried to live a healthy life and I grew up strong in my faith. My mama Cherie made sure I grew up slow and in the fear of god. I enjoy a balanced and healthy/ diet but always treat myself. However, the cancer taught me to live in awareness of each and every moment. I learned to be aware and be grateful for the life I have. Stop waiting for things to get better, according to society's standards – I already have a good life by my own standards. Appreciate the people who love me and who matters to me. Let go of things that did not serve me anymore. I have learned to be thankful. All in all I would say I have become a better version of myself. Not the best version (I still fall off that rodeo horse called life), but a better one.
Compiled Vidya Gappy