Matladi Magunda, 46
I have been blissfully living my life without any thoughts of developing a life-threatening illness until I started experiencing pain in my right breast. I initially just thought it was growing pains and made nothing of it.
The pain got so bad it warranted me getting concerned enough to go the nearest hospital casualty unit. The attending doctor sent me for a mammogram and a scan; the mammogram detected an abnormal lump on my breast. Immediately the doctor booked me for a biopsy.
I still did not make anything of it because there is no history of cancer in my family; little did I know it does not work that way. A couple of days later I went to fetch my results for the biopsy with hundreds of plans for the day, that was when the doctor told me my lump was malignant and I had breast cancer. I felt my world come crashing down on me and thought I was going to die.
At first I forgot that I have a policy with Platinum Life until a colleague asked me if I know of such a plan. I remembered my cover and immediately contacted Platinum Life. They asked me to send the relevant documents, which I did, and they paid out within two weeks of having submitted the documents.
My pay out was R159 000 for a premium of less than R200. Throughout the processing of my claim, they made sure they kept me updated and that alone went towards relieving some of my stress. The payout came in handy as some payments, including specialist consultations, are not covered by my medical aid.
I have recently completed my chemo treatment and my oncologist has given me a month’s break before my surgery, after which I will be undergoing radiation.
I must admit that I am most impressed by the staff at Platinum Life (Leandi Schoonees) who called me during my chemo treatment to check up on me and also sent me a beautiful gift to wish me well.
It has been a hard and challenging journey for me, but I have had the best support from my family and colleagues alike and I am glad that I have chosen cover from a company that looks at me as a person and not a number.
I would recommend this policy to every woman because the rising number of women that are being diagnosed with breast cancer is frightening.
Henry John Batt, 59
During June/July 2019 I visited my local family doctor with a bit of a sore knee. I asked that we do general blood tests seeing that it had been years since I had a test. The following morning, I received a phone call that I should urgently see a urologist because my PSA level was 68. I was then referred to Dr Sias Voss at the Urology Hospital in Pretoria who after a range of tests and a biopsy, confirmed that prostate cancer was present. He then referred me to Dr Dirk Ligthelm who had an MRI and scan performed to see if the cancer had spread further than the prostate. Although the scans did not show that the cancer had spread, the tests confirmed that I had a high-risk cancerous tumour with a Gleason score of 9.
At this stage the shock and denial set in. I am 59 and very active with absolutely no symptoms- on top of that I had no family history of prostate cancer. Upon Dr Ligthelm’s recommendation, the prostate was entirely removed by means of a robotic-assisted prostatectomy.
Now the questions surrounding the costs involved arose and what the medical aid would cover. I already had to pay the consultation fees as well as put down a R10 000 deposit to be admitted to the Urology Hospital in Pretoria, not to mention the traveling between Settlers in Limpopo to Pretoria. The operation would end up costing approximately R200 000. Dr Ligthelm sent a submission to the medical aid after which I was registered as a cancer patient and the procedure was approved. My prostate was removed on 3 September 2019.
Then Platinum Life happened. We were unaware that I was registered as a life assured on my wife Nerine’s Platinum policy. She immediately- after we arrived home with the bad news- found the policy with the good news that I was indeed covered. She immediately got in contact with Platinum Life and that is how we came across Leandi Schoonees.
This young lady was not only helpful and competent, but she also treated us with such compassion and empathy. She also immediately sent the necessary documentation to us for completion and went through everything with us, which we then sent back with supporting documents.
It couldn’t even have been three weeks when the insured amount was paid in full into our account which we were able to use to pay for all the costs that the medical aid did not cover. Then another surprise arrived- about a week later a package was delivered to our home with the loveliest card that Leandi had written personally with a variety of products, sleepwear, and slippers as well as a gift voucher from Musica.
About a month ago, just before the government-imposed lockdown was announced, Leandi sent us another gift voucher to the value of R4500 from Pick n Pay on behalf of Platinum Life.
My wife and I are so thankful and now know that if she were ever in such a position, she would also be assisted by Platinum Life.
Daleen Hoffman, 38
Two years ago, I received a phone call from Platinum Life to find out if I wanted to take out a policy with them. At that stage a good friend of mine had colon cancer so I was clearly aware of the financial implications and stress that are involved in something like that. I decided without hesitation to take out the policy and I’ve even upgraded it. In September 2019 we felt a small, pain-free lump in my breast. We immediately reacted seeing that my grandmother and her sister (on my father’s side) passed away from breast cancer.
About five days after my first biopsies the doctor wanted to see us to discuss the results. She called our whole family in, looked at my 9-year-old daughter and said, “Your mommy has got breast cancer – but don’t worry we’ll help her!” The wind had literally been taken out of our sails! I was 38 years old, fit, and healthy with no symptoms! We had to stay strong in front of our children (age 7 and 9) and kept them informed about everything from the beginning. We made the best of every doctor’s appointment and procedure and always combined it with a nice outing. With our Heavenly Father, my wonderful husband and children, family and friends we were able to make a molehill out of this mountain.
I sent Platinum Life an email immediately to notify them of my diagnosis. Their service was excellent! All I had to do was send a few documents through and within a couple of weeks everything had been paid! The costs until now are about R160 000. Thanks to Platinum Life we were able to completely eliminate the financial stress and just focus on a speedy recovery! The next biopsy was done in theatre and fortunately showed that the cancer had not spread! My treatment was a bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstructive surgery. Further testing confirmed that no chemotherapy or radiation was necessary but that a radical hysterectomy would be in the near future.
About two months after my operation, Platinum Life blessed me with a lovely surprise package and a handwritten note. After that, many phone calls followed to find out how I was recuperating, as well as a grocery voucher of R4500! Every treat was completely unexpected and is truly appreciated and enjoyed.
We are so thankful that we are members of Platinum Life and will continue to support them. Once again, thank you for the outstanding service. You were one of the many miracles we that we experienced during this time!
Leonie Thomas, 56
For a week or so I had this pain in my abdomen which was bearable. I did not have regular bowel movements that week and just put it down to constipation. My husband and I do a 5 to 7 km walk every Saturday morning, but this particular morning the pain in my abdomen was excruciating. I took some pain tablets and slept for about an hour. Not wanting the pain to get me down, I got up, showered, got dressed and told hubby, “Let’s go to the shops.” Being the concerned hubby he is, he asked “Are you sure you can walk?” I said, “Yes, I am fine.” So off we went to do our weekly shopping. Fortunately, I was pushing the trolley and every time I felt that sharp pain.
I could lean over the trolley to mask it. After an hour in the shop, we went home and again I took some pain tablets and fell asleep. I spent that entire day in bed. We try to go to church regularly but normally if we are not feeling well, we will not go. However, that Sunday morning it felt like I was being forced to go to church. Something kept pushing me to get ready and go. Again, I was not going to let this pain get me down and by that time the pain had eased a bit. We went to church, and that Sunday our priest decided to take to the street and do a silent demonstration for violence against women – our country was going through a terrible time with women and children being murdered. I stood outside and needed to find something to lean against, I spotted a pole with a stop sign and used that. During that service, it was like someone spoke to me and said, “You need to see a doctor.” Now, I am not one for doctors, I will only go when I feel that there is nothing I can do. I am also a very conscientious person and do not like to take time off from work to go to the doctor.
On Monday I went to work, phoned the doctor’s rooms, and got an appointment for 4 pm that afternoon. The doctor examined me and suggested I go for an ultrasound. He booked the ultrasound for early on the Tuesday morning (again, me asking for the earliest appointment not wanting to be too late for work). In the ultrasound room, the assistant scanned and scanned, more gel (thankfully it was heated) and more scanning. She left the room and told me stay on the bed as she has to call the doctor. By now alarm bells were ringing like crazy. The doctor came in, more gel and more scanning, eventually the doctor said that I would have to have more tests, or an MRI done and that she would send the results to my GP. That very afternoon, my doctor called me and said I need to see a gynaecologist urgently. I gave him my gynaecologist’s details and I got an appointment to see her the next day. So, on Wednesday afternoon I was off to the gynae. She looked at my ultrasound images and said it doesn’t look good. There was a tumour in both my ovaries, and they were huge. Approximately 30 cm she said, like the size of a soccer ball. I was horrified. She said the pain was from the pressure of the tumours because they had no more space to grow. The tumours had to be removed immediately and surgery was scheduled for Friday morning.
I recovered very quickly from the surgery and was sent home on the Monday. A follow-up visit was scheduled for the following Wednesday. That was when she gave us the news that after removing the tumours, she also had to remove the omentum and that I had stage 3A ovarian cancer. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be diagnosed with cancer. There is also no history of female cancer in my family. My hubby was the first to break down in the doctor’s rooms and then I broke down (the tears are rolling down my face now as I remember that day). The doctor was very supportive and convinced us that it was treatable. Fortunately, my gynaecologist is also an oncologist, so I didn’t have to see someone new.
I went home that day and broke the news to my kids who are all married with a family. My kids all left work and came straight to my home. Lots of tears and lots of words of encouragement. Lots of tears followed for the rest of that night. I also prayed a lot that night.
The next morning, I was feeling more positive than the day before and then I informed my boss. As I am part of a management team, I asked her to inform them all, as well as my own team, but to keep conversation strictly to SMS or WhatsApp messages as I was not ready to speak to anyone other than my immediate family. I also informed my priest; we have such a good relationship. He visited me at home and prayed. He has also kept me in prayer ever since.
My kids came and visited every day, checking up to see how I was coping. My daughters tear up very quickly (a bit like their dad) but my rock is my son, who is the youngest. He was the one that asked about my medical aid and which plan I am on. It was then that I told him that just last week I cancelled my female cancer policy. He encouraged me to send an email to Platinum Life and explain what had happened.
I did this immediately and goodness, what a fantastic team at Platinum Life! So empathetic, gracious, kind and understanding. I was promised that they would look into it immediately and revert back. After many phone calls and emails from the Platinum Life team, I was advised that my policy would be paid out. During this time, I started chemo – actually two weeks after my operation. The chemo went well, and I had very few side effects. My husband was by my side at every chemo session. The cancer is currently in remission. I still have to visit my oncologist every second month and there are still more tests which have to be done.
Fortunately, my medical aid has covered all the chemo sessions. With the policy pay out, I was able to cover any shortfall. I was also able to cover the debts that I was concerned about which has given me financial freedom. I have put some of the money away as you never know when the cancer can reappear.
I was surrounded by fantastic people. I am in awe of the staff at the Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital chemo treatment unit, they are such special people.
I am also grateful to my immediate family, extended family, my team, my boss, my colleagues, my friends and last but not least, Platinum Life, who have all surrounded me with so much love.
I am so blessed and believe that God spoke to me that Sunday, He was the one who said I should go and see a doctor. I believe in the power of prayer and believe that God listens and answers.
I continue to pray and thank everyone for all their support as I continue my journey. I have faith and know that with God’s help, I can be cancer free.
A special thank you to Platinum Life for their continuous contact and acts of kindness. It is much appreciated.
Keagan has always been a very busy little boy. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He had a growth on the side of his neck that just got bigger, and a sonar showed that most of the lymph nodes in his body were enlarged. It was decided that a biopsy should be done on the largest lymph node, which happened to be in his neck, and that is when it was determined that he had cancer. It was a severe shock for us to learn that Keagan had cancer at just five years old. At that moment it felt as though our lives just came to a halt.
We immediately thought it must run in the family as his grandmother and grandfather on his dad’s side were both in remission from cancer at the time. His grandmother had breast cancer and his grandfather had prostate cancer. But the lymphoma was not hereditary based on his grandparents’ history. It was already a bad time for him as his maternal grandmother had passed away in June 2019. He was very attached to her and now he had to go through this difficult path of chemo and being sick.
Everything happened so quickly. We found out on the Tuesday that he had cancer and on Wednesday we were already at Universitas Private Hospital in Bloemfontein at the paediatric oncologist for tests. His bone marrow was also tested but thankfully the cancer had not spread to the bone marrow yet and on Thursday he received his first round of chemo. What followed was chemo every two weeks. The chemo made him relatively sick, but he handled it very well and after two or three days he was the busy little boy we knew again. In the weeks that followed he began to ask whether he would have to go the hospital that week because then he would feel bad again. He didn’t actually understand what was happening. It really wasn’t pleasant seeing him that way at all. Nausea, fever, chemo that burned while it ran through his veins. He is currently in remission and he has to get four scans done during the year which will also lead to additional costs as the year progresses. We trust that his next scan will bring positive news, but it’s only human to feel somewhat scared as well.
The costs incurred amounted to R300 000. Additional costs will also be incurred for the four scans he has to have during the course of the year, as well as for the two follow-up scans per year that he has to have going forward.
All we can say is thank you to Platinum Life for the role that they played during this time in our lives. Leandi phones us regularly to find out how Keagan is. Our claim was also paid out very quickly, without too many questions, and Keagan was even spoiled with the cutest Christmas gift. We were also spoiled with a Pick n Pay voucher recently. It has helped us so much, especially now during this uncertain time of COVID-19.
We would recommend Platinum Life any time for good service and loyalty towards their clients.
Babette Clare, 46
There are few things in this life that can throw you off balance like a cancer diagnosis. The absolute fear, questions, “not quick enough” answers and feelings of hopelessness can drive you to distraction. Very quickly you learn about big scientific words, what your diagnosis means and what your cancer treatment will entail. Finding the right oncologist that can walk this path with you is also a time-consuming process. So many people have cancer, and the best oncologists are all fully booked when it comes to appointments.
I have no family history of cancer. My family and I live a healthy lifestyle and although I’m on the wrong side of 40, I felt healthy and happy.
Two years before my cancer diagnosis, I felt a lump in my breast. A biopsy was done that indicted fibrosis, which is not malignant.
When I felt a lump again there was no reason to be concerned because it was just fibrosis, or so I thought. When I heard the news, it felt like I was in an elevator that was falling. How advanced is it? How quickly can we do tests to see where the cancer has spread to? I didn’t even realise that I had cancer so for all I knew it was everywhere. How do I tell my children? I called my husband immediately. He met me at home and we just held each other and cried. The road ahead would be hard and uncertain.
I contacted Platinum Life regarding the policy I took out about ten years ago. My family doctor and oncologist filled the forms in and within two weeks the funds were paid into my account. This money helped us tremendously because our medical aid is only a hospital plan and there is a co-payment for every test, whether it is a blood sample or a scan. Because of the type, stage and grading of the cancer I was diagnosed with my treatment was crippling and I couldn’t work for weeks at a time.
A week before my mastectomy I received the most beautiful gift box from Platinum Life. I even took a video of it. It was packaged in the loveliest wrapping paper. Inside was a silver gift box with sleepwear, slippers, a scarf for my newly bald head, a sunhat, a mug and ginger tea, a book about cancer, a Musica voucher and so much more. Everything was of the highest quality. There were goosebumps and tears.
The people at Platinum Life understand female cancer. They are informed about female cancers and don’t just sit behind a computer screen with a phone in hand. They know how to be there for cancer sufferers. They follow up with complimentary phone calls and show an interest in how the treatment is progressing and always spoil you with gift vouchers.
Thank you for being there for me Platinum Life. I am very thankful to you. I recommend you to anyone that asks me about breast cancer. It is a journey that no one wants to undertake, but you really eased the uncertainty, especially financially.
Storm, 5 months
The 24th of April marks a day of change and new possibilities. A day when life matters so much more than outer beauty and material blessings. God graced us with a little miracle, and we are so honoured to be the proud parents of Storm.
The journey thus far has been filled with ups and downs and we are reminded of a word Bishop TD Jakes ministered “For exceptional people the highs are very high, but the lows are very low”. The journey from your inception was a mysterious and joyous experience, a word spoken in the atmosphere, heard by God almighty and your formation took place.
Every bit of growth from our first doctor’s visit at 8 weeks confirming your heartbeat- yes, there is life, thanks be to God. At 12 weeks a fully formed foetus, healthy with a strong heartbeat, moving around already. At the 20-week check-up we found out your gender, we didn’t know as we wanted to do a gender reveal. Mommy was expecting a boy, but your daddy and brother knew you were a girl, our little Storm was on her way. As the weeks went on you grew big and strong and finally, the wait was over, you were ready to come home. Always doing a karate chop, making me laugh all the time, even minutes before your delivery. On the 7th of January, you graced us with your presence, our little princess had arrived.
Your stay with us so far has been filled with so many happy and beautiful memories. Photo shoots galore, time spent with your brother playing and laughing, sibling bonding with love all the time. On the 27th of March, we had our first confirmation of your diagnosis of cancer. It was mommy and daddy’s 9th wedding anniversary and daddy’s birthday. It was such a sad and cold experience, as if life was stolen from us, not wanting to believe that this tragedy had now become your cross to carry at the tender age of 10 weeks.
Our first scans showed that it could be bilateral, meaning both eyes, (a small lesion on the right eye but a huge lesion on the left eye) or trilateral which affects the eyes and brain, but we had to do CT scans in order to confirm if the brain was affected.
We met with many doctors thereafter and the official confirmation was on the 3rd of April through many in-depth checks and scans. Soon after, you had a terrible infection which led us to the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre, which is the best is the best oncology hospital in Africa, where more qualified doctors helped us with your case. We prayed and prayed like never before. God kept on making things easier and more doors opened to ensure only the best doctors dealt with your case. We were told your cancer was retinoblastoma and had already progressed to stage E which was life-threatening and if not removed could spread to your brain and other parts of your body.
This was devastating news to all of us, but we kept praying to God for your healing. Many more tests were done to check for any other cancer in your body. All came back negative; praise and honour be to God. Dr Rowe, a paediatric oncologist, then referred us to ophthalmologist and surgeon, Dr Lara Sandri. She was such a blessing, an angel on earth who would walk this journey with us. On the 24th of April, your surgery took place, and we removed the cancer which in turn led us to remove your left eye and replace it with a prosthetic eye as soon as it was healed.
On the 5th of June, we had our first prosthetic fitting and soon you were looking just like the Storm we had gotten to know. It took some time to get used to but now we don’t even notice it’s only a prosthetic shell.
The cost for all visits and surgery are on-going but are close to R200 000.
Platinum Life was so supportive in processing our claim and we are extremely grateful for all the additional support and gifts sent to our family.
It has really been a difficult time but with such special people placed in our lives it has made this experience so much easier.
Cobus Niemand, 56
I asked my family doctor to do a general check-up and asked in passing if he could send me to have my PSA tested. Although I had no problems with my prostate and I was healthy, my main reason for the check-up was because my father passed away from a type of stomach cancer in May 2018 soon after he was diagnosed. My mother also had cancer and passed away from it in 2008. Our eldest daughter has been in remission for six years after being diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 21. A large portion of her colon was removed, and she received chemotherapy for six months.
The result of the PSA level was 5.71 which led my doctor to refer me to a urologist. He prescribed specific pills for the prostate that I had to take for thirty days, after which I had to go for a PSA test again. With the following test, the level was, against all expectations, 6.96.
To make 100% sure about was going on, the urologist suggested a biopsy be done. The results from the pathologist indicated that it was cancer with a Gleason score of 6, stage 1. Although we knew all too well what cancer can do to a person, we were very calm. It was Lent at the time, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s all-encompassing love, care and presence is the reality from which we live.
Everything regarding prostate cancer was discussed with my wife and I, as well as all the ways in which it could be treated. At that stage active surveillance was decided upon but also that I would go for an MRI after the prostate healed sufficiently from the biopsy.
The MRI was done in Pretoria with the result that more cancer was present in the prostate than what the biopsy indicated. My PSA level also increased to 9.6. This altered the treatment strategy. The urologist discussed all the possibilities with us again, and after we prayed about it as a couple and a family it was decided that the prostate should be removed.
Soon after a radical prostatectomy was performed at the Urology Hospital in Pretoria. The operation went smoothly and after three days I was discharged so that I could recover at home. No radiation or chemotherapy was required. In the thirteen months since the operation my PSA has been tested four times and each time the level was 0.01, which of course we are very thankful to the Lord for.
The care and support that we received from Platinum Life during this time was, and is, very special. Around the time of the operation, I was spoiled with an exceptional package (and since then with another), add their generous provision through their policies then you stand in awe of the overwhelming goodness of a company that does its name proud- for whom it is clearly about the precious lives of people. You feel that you are not just a number on a policy but that you are a person, part of a family, cared for by people that don’t even know you. Thank you to the friendly personnel, thank you Platinum Life. We have nothing but the greatest appreciation for you and highly recommend Platinum Life.
Michelle Lottering, 48
I have always been very diligent about going for mammograms. I have a family history of breast cancer – two of my grandmother’s sisters had breast cancer as well as my aunt. They all died from the disease, as in their time there weren’t all the modern treatments and detection methods. They were the “kaalvoet oor die berg loop – stoere boere tannies” just pushing through.
Last year in February I went for a mammogram again after detecting a lump in the side of my left breast. The results of the mammogram and sonar were that there was some thickening of the tissue and that it was nothing to worry about as I also happen to have very dense, fibrous breast tissue.
In the meantime, after the mammogram, we ran into some financial problems and with heavy hearts decided to come off our hospital plan in April, especially as there was nothing to worry about because I had it all checked out.
In October of the same year, I felt a lump under my left armpit the size of a marble. After consulting my GP, he immediately diagnosed it as cancer.
I was now distraught, as we no longer had medical cover and provincial hospitals do not have good reputations. I was stressed and anxious. Nevertheless, I went and was told by the surgeon (who I would have seen even if I was on medical aid) that I needed a mastectomy as well as at least six months of chemo. I was told I had no time to think and the doctor booked the operation for the Monday morning, (it was Thursday) which I declined. I asked for at least another week just to give me a bit of time to wrap my head around it all. He also said he could not help me with reconstruction and that I would probably find I would not want to reconstruct!
I got another opinion from Dr Benn in Johannesburg at the Breast Care Centre. She also operates from the Helen Joseph Hospital, which is a government hospital. She was so incredibly helpful and considerate of my situation that she saw me on Wednesday evening at 9.30 pm.
After taking one look at my results, she immediately told my husband and I that no mastectomy was needed and that only a lumpectomy would be required later. Reconstruction could be done at the same time. In the meantime, the tumour would be shrunk with medication. In addition, I needed an MRI which is the best way of detecting my particular cancer – lobular carcinoma. These are expensive tests and are not always the gold standard for patients admitted to some government hospitals. Dr Benn managed to get me onto a trial for a new type of MRI which would not cost me anything. All I needed to do was to get to Johannesburg. It felt like a mountain range had been lifted off our shoulders! The relief was indescribable, and emotions flooded in leading to tears of joy with my hubby!
The following day I called the doctor, thanked him for his service and cancelled the surgery for the mastectomy I was scheduled for on the Monday, saying that I obtained a second opinion, and no mastectomy was needed.
The oncologist I saw in Johannesburg at Mill Park Hospital at Dr Benn’s suggestion was an incredible person – so compassionate and kind. He helped me without charge and gave me the injection to artificially put me in into menopause, as this would assist the oral medication to shrink the tumour, blocking my body from producing oestrogen which is what my cancer feeds on. Unfortunately, I will need this expensive injection every 6 months in addition to the oral daily meds which are not supplied by state hospitals and I have to cover the cost. Ironically the chemo they were so eager to give me (much more expensive than what I needed now), would not have worked for my particular cancer, so I would have been “bald” and “boobless” for nothing and my immunity obliterated!
The meds have side effects like tiredness, bone density loss, memory loss and mood swings, which I still consider “great” when comparing it to the path I would have been on – not being there for my children and husband. At least this way I can still be there for them and spare them the trauma of seeing me without hair and feeling like death warmed up!
I am grateful for each day and see the cancer, not as an enemy, but see what it has taught me – to live in the moment, not just existing, but living my life!
Costs have included travelling expenses up and down to Johannesburg, accommodation, consultation costs, test results, medication and loss of income totalling about R120 000 so far. Thankfully I had my Platinum Life policy which assisted me so much, without its aid I would have been left with no options. It has also assisted us to stay afloat financially amidst the recent COVID-19 pandemic.
The claim was so easy to submit and the care and compassion from the Platinum Life team was unbelievable. The thoughtful gift of the book, slippers, pyjamas, voucher, scarf, and goodies was such a beautiful gesture which brought tears to my eyes. Everyone I spoke to, especially Leandi, felt like a family member – really having my best interests at heart – caring about how I really am! Thank you, Platinum Life! You guys ROCK! Us girls must stick together, and you are proof of this!