My name is Tania. I was born in 1966 to an English Catholic Mother and an Afrikaans Dutch Reformed Father – the third of four children. Religion was always part of my life – but Faith? Faith would come later – much later.
In 1992 I married, but no children followed. It did not bother either of us. We were happy enough in each other’s company.
The bombshell hit in 2002 – I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and had a mastectomy of my right breast. Okay, we thought. Now we knew why there were no pitter-patter of little feet in our house. As you can well imagine, Breast Cancer changed my life, but not in the way you would expect. The day after my operation, I opened my eyes to see two middle-aged ladies standing next to my bed. Kind faces, soft smiles, tender hands. Brightly they introduced themselves – they were Volunteers from Reach for Recovery, and yes, they both have had Breast Cancer, and they are there to have a chat. Out popped the vacu-bag, the softy and a booklet. All important items, but the most important part of their visit was the calm they brought to me – the knowledge that I was not alone. And with their help, I did not only survive, I survived with dignity. Slowly, my Religion became Faith – and my Faith became Helen.
Despite the chemo, despite the radiation, and despite the medication to suppress my estrogen, five years later, at the age of forty, I fell pregnant with our daughter, Helen. She was born in 2007, and she has become our Reach for Recovery branches’ Symbol of Hope – our Symbol of Survival. I believe that she will one day become a strong and special woman – after all, she is part of my extended Reach for Recovery Family. She is surrounded by the woman who constantly inspire me to go and visit a new sister to our ‘clan of survivors’; the woman who have taught me: “kind faces; soft smiles; tender hands.”
And most importantly: SURVIVAL WITH DIGNITY.