National Cancer Survivor Month | 17 June 2020
Tania Marie: “Cancer diagnosis is not easy to digest but you need to be strong and have faith in yourself and in God”
On the first Sunday of June of every year it is the National Cancer Survivors Day, an international event to raise awareness of cancer, sufferers and survivors. In Seychelles, the Cancer Concern Association (CCA) has dedicated the month of June to cancer survivors and Seychelles NATION always supports organisations with good causes. In collaboration with CCA we will try to bring you stories about our brave survivors and how they are coping with life. A survivor is anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer and survived, but even survivors have lasting effects on their lives left by the cancer, and this can affect them and their family in numerous ways. It is not easy for the survivors to talk about their experience and we are grateful to those who had the courage to share their stories with our readers.
Today we are chatting with Tania Marie. She is 45 years old and a cancer survivor.
Seychelles NATION: How and when did you discover you had cancer?
Tania Marie: It was in 2003, I was 28 years old and working for Airtel. I was on my way home at Anse Aux Pins late one rainy night when misfortune happened. The rain had made the uphill road slippery and the driver lost control of the van and we fell over a wall into a ditch. We were fortunate that all three passengers were not harmed during the accident. After one week since the incident, I started to feel a remarkable pain in my right side. I went to Dr Jivan where I underwent an ultrasound and he confirmed an irregular growth on my right ovary. I was immediately referred to the gynaecologist at the Seychelles Hospital where I went with my mother. Once there, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and required immediate surgery. I was told that the impact of the accident could cause the growth to burst and as a result, the cancer would spread to other parts of my body.
Seychelles NATION: What where your first reactions and how did you deal with it?
Tania Marie: Upon hearing the diagnosis and noting the pending surgery, I was very scared. Despite being scared, I decided to manage my diagnosis with positivity and my faith that all will turn out well.
Seychelles NATION: What were your next steps?
Tania Marie: I discussed my condition with my family and decided to have my operation done at the Darne Hospital in Mauritius following great reviews. Thus, I informed the Seychelles Hospital of my decision who advised that flight could worsen my condition. But, my mind was made up and I was willing to take the risk. All the contacts and arrangements in preparation were made and I left for Mauritius with my partner. In Mauritius, I stayed with a family friend who provided me with much support. The first three weeks in Mauritius were scheduled for tests. However, during my second week, I slipped and fell and was admitted. I was in so much pain and was given pain killers to relieve some of the pain. I was discharged one week later and prepared for my operation.
On the day of the operation, I begun surgery at 6am and finished at 10am. When I regained consciousness, I was visited by my doctor who informed me of the success of the surgery and also commented on how very lucky I was. My growth was the size of a tennis ball which if not operated sooner would have burst. As my entire right ovary was removed, I did not undergo chemotherapy and was not given any further medications. I stayed in Mauritius for a further three months for follow up sessions. I continued my half yearly check-ups in Seychelles for 2 years.
Seychelles NATION: What has helped besides medicine to overcome cancer?
Tania Marie: I have applied one remedy that was passed on to me, juice of green papaya. The recipe is to halve a green papaya, skin on and put it in the juice maker and have it as is, nothing added. It is quite bitter but the health benefits are far greater. I drank this juice 3 times a day before meals for 6 months after my surgery.
In addition, I consumed soursop which also has many health benefits.
My faith has always been a pillar for me and guided me through my battle. Having faith is very important.
Seychelles NATION: For how long did you take medication and how long have you been cancer free?
Tania Marie: Following my discharge from the hospital I was not given any further medication.
I have been cancer free for seventeen years.
Seychelles NATION: What advice would you give cancer patients and the public in general?
Tania Marie: Cancer diagnosis is not easy to digest but you need to be strong and have faith in yourself and faith that the good Lord will help you through.
You need to be strong. You need to be positive.
I encourage everyone to have regular check-ups and screening.
Lastly, I understand that yes, we do fall sometimes, but we need to find the reason and purpose to get back up. Do not give up!
Tania Marie: I had very strong support from my family and friends.
Despite having had ovarian cancer at a young age, today I have two healthy and beautiful children so the cancer did not deter my chances of having a normal life and a family. However, I did choose to change some bad habits and live a healthier lifestyle. I used to enjoy snacking, fast foods and lemonade and have reduced/eliminated my intake of such. I follow a healthier diet of more fruits, vegetables and I reduce my intake of greasy food, preservatives and sugar.
I live by the benefits of warm water, onions and garlic which are all good for the health.
Compiled by Vidya Gappy