Genevivé Roxmouth – Crown of glory
With the most magnificent and longest red hair, Genevivé Roxmouth shares her story of finding her crown of glory once diagnosed with synovial sarcoma.
Genevivé Roxmouth (34) lives in Krugersdorp, Gauteng with her second husband, Harry, and her son, Hendrik (12).
Diagnosed at 24
In 2012, Genevivé started losing weight and had a cough. “Having a little child, you try and keep the medical aid for them. So, I medicated myself at home by taking cough syrup for about three months, but it didn’t help. I also started getting out of breath. Then one Saturday I coughed up blood. That is when I went to the hospital, however, the doctor didn’t even do a physical exam or any tests, he just prescribed medication.
I then decided to go to my GP, who sent me for an X-ray of my chest as well as blood work. When he reviewed the X-ray, he was shocked as it looked like a chest of an 80-year-old woman with pneumonia. He referred me to a specialist and when I got to her rooms I was admitted into hospital straight away and they brought a wheelchair to fetch me. This was really hard for me as I was a young, healthy, active woman,” Genevivé says.
More tests and scans were done while Genevivé was in hospital; a mass was discovered on her right lung, but the doctors needed to figure out what it was, so a biopsy was done. “That was such a painful procedure, and by this time, I couldn’t even walk without oxygen.”
The young mother was sent home with oxygen and while there she coughed up a huge blood clot. She phoned her doctor who said the results were ready, so she must come in with her husband and bring the clot with her. That July, it was confirmed that Genevivé had synovial sarcoma in her right lung and the tumour was pressing against her heart and ribs. “It wasn’t a shock as when I was younger I believe God told me I was going to get cancer and that there is a purpose for it. I remember getting into the golf cart and telling my ex-husband that we would get through this,” she explains.
Donation of hair
Genevivé was referred to an oncologist and told to pack her bags as she would be admitted. She was immediately put on chemotherapy for eight days, 24/7 with a two-week rest period. “The hospital was so accommodating and allowed us to celebrate my son’s 2nd birthday there which I’m so thankful for.” Thereafter she had two more chemotherapy sessions in hospital.
With the most beautiful red locks of hair, Genevivé’s oncologist told her that her hair was going to fall out. Her oncologist was more upset about the loss of Genevivé’s hair than she was herself. “I knew it would grow back.” So, the minute Genevivé started to see the first signs of hair loss, she phoned her hairdresser to cut it and donated it (longer than 20cm) to CANSA. “I was offered R7000 by another hairdresser, but I refused as I wanted to donate it.”
In October, Genevivé underwent surgery to remove the tumour. It was planned to remove only half the lung, however, once they opened her up, it was seen that the cancer had engulfed the whole lung, so the whole lung was removed in an eight-hour surgery. The then 24-year-old was informed before surgery that this could happen. “Tests were done before to see if I would need a lung transplant but because I was young and still in good health, my left lung would build-up capacity to compensate for the missing right lung.”
Once Genevivé healed from surgery, she underwent another three sessions of chemotherapy as before. “My oncologist wanted me to go on a specific chemotherapy, however, at the time it wasn’t available in SA, so she had to order it from Switzerland and do all the necessary paperwork to use it in SA. She fought for me and for that I’m so grateful. She also encouraged me during the last three sessions as I wanted to give up as my body was so restless but thankfully she spoke sense into me and gave me medication to sleep through treatment.”
Genevivé couldn’t go for radiation due to the affected area being too close to her heart. This is why her chemotherapy was so intense.
Breast prostheses as a lung filler
Due to Genevivé’s left lung having to compensate for the missing right lung, it was expanding too much and started pressing against her oesophagus.
“I sounded like Darth Vader.” After much research by her medical team, an innovative technique was found of placing breast prostheses in the cavity where her right lung should be. The medical aid didn’t want to pay for it as they saw it as cosmetic but after motivation from her medical team, it was approved, and she had the operation in March 2014. The operation was a success and Genevivé could talk and breathe properly.
Cancer returns in the arm
After being in remission for two years in 2016, Genevivé was having difficulties in her marriage and then she had the added stress of a lump appearing on her arm. After it was surgically removed, it was diagnosed as the same primary cancer as in her lung. She couldn’t have chemotherapy as she already had five different ones in 2012.
So, she underwent radiation every weekday from March to June.
That November 2016, Genevivé divorced her husband. “It wasn’t easy. I didn’t want my son to grow up in a broken home, but I lost myself in that marriage and in a time when I needed a loving partner the most. Once I got divorced,
I really grew spiritually as I should have been doing before. Then I met Harry, and everything changed; he taught me how to embrace my red hair and love it. He also has red hair. We got married in October 2019 and he has been so supportive and is great with my son.”
The 34-year-old believes her cancer taught her how to forgive. “Forgiving isn’t agreeing with what was done to you but it’s moving on from it. There was much forgiveness needed in my life, not only with my ex-husband but also with my family. And I can proudly say, I got rid of all my unforgiveness.”
In February 2020, Genevivé started having a burning sensation in her right breast and then it started to harden. After investigation, it was decided to remove the breast prostheses in September and put two new ones in the right cavity of her lung, as it was thought that they had ruptured. However, once removed, it was found out that they hadn’t ruptured but she did have an infection which the doctor cleaned out and then put the new protheses in.
Unfortunately, the drain pipe wound wasn’t healing properly and burst opened in November. It was decided then to remove the prostheses completely as her body was rejecting them. But a year later, in November 2021, it was found that she had a hernia in her chest. “The fluids were leaking out of there and that is what was causing all the havoc. This was my ninth operation in total. But I’m healthy and in the five-year clear.
MEET OUR EDITOR – Laurelle Williams
Laurelle is the Editor at Word for Word Media and graduated from AFDA with a Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Live Performance. She have a love for storytelling and sharing emotions through the power of words. Her aim is to educate, encourage and most of all show there is always hope. Write me: firstname.lastname@example.org