An emtotional Reapi Nayacakalou pictured at the Motibhai Group headquarters in Naisoso, Nadi. Photo: MARGARET NAQIRI.
By ANA SOVA
Reapi Nayacakalou felt like in her own words, a sledgehammer had hit her when a doctor at the Nadi Hospital informed her she had endometrial cancer.
As she left the doctor’s room she headed for her nieces’ office, she sat there in pin drop silence in what she described as “the longest two hours of my life”.
She had been bleeding most days for six months straight since January 2015 and knew that something was wrong.
Reapi had convinced herself she was ready to accept whatever the doctor was to reveal to her following her endometrial biopsy but to hear that she had been diagnosed with cancer shocked her beyond words.
“All I could think of was my children, twin boys who are only seven year olds and still too young. I think that’s what all parents diagnosed with cancer think of,” she said.
The 52 year old is now living a cancer-free life since her surgery in July, 2015 that resulted in the removal of her uterus and ovaries.
Reapi attended the Motibhai Group’s Bushells Biggest Morning Tea held at the company’s headquarters in Naisoso, Nadi where she shared her experience to warn other women of the deadly disease.
“After my 50th birthday I didn’t have any menses, I was excited thinking menopause, no more pads but in January 2015 I started bleeding,”
“I do know when you have menopause after that first period when you don’t have your menses, you can bleed again and it goes on gradually until it finishes, this one didn’t finish,” Reapi said.
She suffered severe bleeding and clotting associated with pain.
“I went to the Nadi Hospital they referred me to the doctor, they cleaned me up and said life should be fine but I kept bleeding. I was going through six packs of pad a day,”
“I only stopped bleeding when they gave me tablets to stop the bleeding that was for 10 days, basically in the last six months I enjoyed 60 days of not bleeding otherwise I was,” Reapi said.
Her condition started affecting her life at work and at home.
“It got to a stage I was getting less stress from the office and more stress from bleeding. When I stand up at home my husband is mopping after me, in the office when I stand up to go to the ladies room, the girls are mopping after me,” Reapi said.
She said the doctors couldn’t perform an endometrial biopsy because she was always bleeding on her visits.
“So in May I told them listen you just tell me the date and I’ll take the tablets on that day when I’m dry I’ll come for the test, and that’s what we did”.
On the recommended date, the mother of two got tested and was told to return to the hospital for her results on the 15th of July.
“On the 2nd of July I was surprised they had called me to come to the hospital that afternoon because my results were back,”
“When I went in the doctor asked if I wanted the good news or the bad news first, I said hit me with the bad. She said there were two choices, chemotherapy or surgery and I just told her I wanted my uterus removed because I won’t be having children anymore,” Reapi said.
She didn’t want her children to suffer from any psychological impact from watching her suffer undergoing procedures of chemotherapy treatment.
“For six months my children have watched me suffer, if I have chemo my hair is going to fall out and they are going to freak out and I will not put them through that,’ Reapi said.
She said fear overwhelmed her as she made her way home.
“I was thinking of how I will I tell them? It wasn’t the fear of dying; it was dying while my boys were still too young,” Reapi said.
She said telling her husband about the bad news was easier then facing her twins.
“After a short devotion one evening, I told them I was going to have a surgery and that I may not live. They asked me why would God allow me to get sick and I assured them that God would only let me go through it if he knew I was strong enough which calmed them,”
“Inside I felt broken knowing that in a surgery anything can happen,” Reapi said.
The Nawaka villager said she was worried about the future of her children.
“I even got to a stage where I asked a very close friend that if anything happens to me, if she can look after my children. I was always organised and I wanted things to be arranged if something ever happened to me. It also kept my mind of the surgery”.
She said she was lucky two weeks after her diagnosis; the doctors had slotted her in on their surgery list.
“I was lucky they slotted me in two weeks after that, two ladies that I had the operation with had been waiting for a year to get the space,”
“The surgery lasted five hours; during the surgery they removed everything, my uterus, and my ovaries,” Reapi said.
Following the surgery she said the doctors did a swab test to find out if the surgery had been successful. Thankfully when I went back for my follow-up, the doctors said they had contained it.
Reapi is pleading with women to attend regular Pap smear test and screening.
“After my shocking diagnosis I wondered if I could’ve discovered the onset of disease earlier. I’m pleading to all women to visit the gynecologist often and always go to the doctors if you sense that something is wrong,”
“Don’t be embarrassed or hesitant, it can help save your life,” she urged.