Wasp 'Saves' Woman's Life
- A 46-year-old woman in South Africa was diagnosed with breast cancer after a wasp sting led her to seek a doctor’s opinion.
- She treated her breast cancer with surgery, chemo, and radiation; today, she’s cancer-free.
- Women aged 45-54 should get mammograms annually to screen for breast cancer. Women with a family history of the disease should begin screening sooner.
There have been reports of animals, most often dogs, discovering cancer in humans, but a wasp sting is in a league of its own. August, who lives in Monte Vista, South Africa, a suburb of Cape Town, was – before her cancer diagnosis – enjoying a prime period in her life. She’d started a new job, had recently lost over 140 lbs, and she and her family had moved into their dream home. But a doctor’s visit after a wasp sting changed everything in a flash.
Kahmiela August’s Cancer Detection & TreatmentRead More
After she was stung, her doctor wanted to examine the bumps on August’s body, which she believed were the result of the wasp sting. She was surprised to learn the bumps might be cancerous. August describes how, while waiting for the results from tests and exams, she held things together for her family.
She remembers the day she got her diagnosis, nearly a year ago, saying, “Finally, on 6 April 2021 – the day I turned 46 – a diagnosis of stage II to III breast cancer was confirmed. This meant that cancer had grown deeply into nearby tissue while spreading into my lymph nodes but, fortunately, not to any other parts of my body.”
Thankfully, August’s cancer had not spread too far. She treated her breast cancer with chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy – all common treatments for breast cancer. August says she was determined to not live in fear, and she was also committed to keeping things as normal as possible at home for her husband and their children.
Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, August underwent her treatments alone. “The first chemotherapy session was rough,” she says, “and afterwards, I ended up in Netcare N1 City hospital for five days with sepsis. Covid-19 was still rife, and because of visitor restrictions, I was all alone. I had taken some work along to my chemotherapy session and insisted that my husband bring my laptop to the hospital. However, the panic in my children, family and friends’ voices and the fear in my husband’s eyes made me sit up and think.”
After six months, August was told that she was in remission. And today, she’s cancer-free. She believes that sticking to her routine was beneficial for her as she went through treatment, and allowed her to only focus on the present moment, instead of entertaining the “what if’s” of her cancer journey.
“I’m back, working at full pace,” she says of her cancer-free life. “I’m exercising again. Sadly, I’m picking up weight again, but we’ll blame this on the festive season, not the extra slice of cake I had for lunch. God bless that little wasp for saving my life!”
Screening for Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is screened for via mammogram, which looks for lumps in the breast tissue and other signs of existing cancer, or cancer in its earliest stages. If a worrisome lump is detected, your radiologist or doctor will advise you on the next steps, which typically include a breast biopsy. The current guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) say that women aged 45 to 54 with a regular risk of breast cancer should get mammograms annually.
For women with an elevated risk of breast cancer (who have a family history of the disease or carry the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation), you should begin screening before age 45. Speak with family members about your family cancer history – it could save your life. Performing self-exams in the shower or at home is another good way to stay on top of breast cancer screenings; these should be done in addition to – not in place of – mammograms.