Vanessa McCarthy

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Simone Van Kraayenburg – Update
6th August 2015
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Sibongile Mkwanazi
6th August 2015
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Vanessa McCarthy

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vanessa-mccarthy“I can remember attending my first CANSA relay for life in 2009, as a company/community effort. I went through the motions of relay without realizing what an impact cancer would have on my life. Nothing in this life happens by chance.

4 years later, quite out of the blue, I was diagnosed with leukaemia in January 2013. To my astonishment, I learned that cancer knows no prejudice, does not favour race, religion, gender or socio-economic status. Who would ever have thought I would get cancer?  I lived a clean healthy life and I exercised regularly. If anything, I may have expected a high cholesterol report, but never cancer.

Knowing a bit about the treatment, I was certain I did not want to put myself through it. My life up to that point had been difficult enough. Little did I know that my selfishness would be turned into a love-walk. So at the eager prompting of friends and family, I reluctantly went to Pretoria for treatment.

The 3 month treatment was as awful as I imagined it would be and I experienced every side-effect possible. Some days I wondered if I’d ever leave the hospital. Daily, I was attended to by highly skilled and dedicated medical staff. During my darkest hours I was carried by the love and support of family and friends. I was amazed at how strangers across the globe were praying for me.  My family members travelled great distances to be with me, my sister across continents and oceans. Sacrificing her total yearly leave and great travel expenses, she daily nudged me out of bed, enticed me to eat and walked me up and down ward corridors. In the event of me needing a bone-marrow transplant we had our blood tested and miraculously, we matched! Even the Prof at Steve Biko Academic hospital was amazed. I am so grateful that I never needed a transplant but rest assured that I already have a match. I feel so blessed!  Millions of leukaemia patients never find a match in time.

My elderly mother also reached deep into her own strength reserves and was sometimes at the hospital at 7am in the morning. She would read chapters out of books and undertook tasks that she may never have done under other circumstances.

Today, 12 months in remission, I am humbled by the trials that life has brought me because God has been so gracious.  I feel inspired to become involved in some way to be able to give back. I am no longer afraid of cancer because I have seen love in the faces of those attending to me. I now know that crisis brings out the best in people.

As I remember those I have lost, I feel inspired to support those suffering, and to help educate people and dispel the cancer myths. None of us are here on this planet by mistake. We need to spread hope and instil the belief that a cure will be found”.