Tanya Hunter

Tanya Hunter

Hello, my name is Tanya Hunter, I’m 50 years old, and I have cervical cancer.

It was November 2012, I was working in Port St Johns at a lovely lodge.  I had to see the gynae in Umtata, and that was the day my whole world shook. In a flash of an eye, an instant, like clicking fingers, everything changed forever.

Normally the reaction like ” why me now” etc would be expected, but I immediately felt responsible. No one to blame, because let’s face it, us humans, that’s what we look for, someone or something to blame.  This was a direct result of not having regular PAP SMEARS. A simple procedure.

My journey has been a humbling experience. I have met people with such courage and inner strength, honesty, hopefulness.  This is why, I think they call it a battle, because you fight with your mind, body and soul.  It is all consuming. Because everything in your world changes, I looked for things that stayed the same, some form of security, and I found this in GOD.  The one thing that does not change, which is most comforting during this time.  This experience is a huge emotional rollercoaster, the best advice, keep moving forward. Have faith. Don’t try to handle it all alone.

I’ve learned through this journey to always be grateful. For everyday day. Re-evaluate my life, what is and is not important.  To give back. Compassion, respect, endurance. I used to have to walk to work at some times in my life, and didn’t like it much, now I just wish I could do it, just be active. I pray for that.

After traipsing through the public sector for three months, without seeing an oncologist in all that time, I decided to see a private oncologist. Well thank goodness, things started to happen, and I’m now gratefully in treatment.

During the stressful time of radiation and chemo it so important to be treated with respect. The Durban Oncology Centre have left me with dignity after a very tough situation. The truth is when we are feeling ill and weak, we tend to feel a little undignified and those ladies treated everyone with compassion and dignity. That makes such difference. And we then in turn can respond with compassion to others.

I cannot stress enough the importance of PAP SMEARS.  I sat in numerous queues and waiting rooms in my public sector travels, and asked many women if they had had a pap smear recently or if at all and 99 percent of these ladies had never. “This is crazy” I thought (me, the one that also never did this simple procedure).  Now there is a vaccine available for girls who are not sexually active yet, and it prevents this disease. What a breakthrough.

My message to everyone out there battling away is that God is constant, He never changes, that PAP SMEARS are vitally important, and that I have been humbled by the heroes I have met along the way. The love shown by helpful people. Words are not enough to show the gratitude I feel.