“You have Melanoma cancer!”

These were the stark words that Hannelie received from her gynaecologist in 2014.


Shocked, terrified and sobbing, Hannelie called her best friend to share the news.  Malignant Melanoma is a deadly cancer, and in Hannelie’s case, had presented itself internally.


Hannelie says, “I had no choice but to fight”.


After a radical hysterectomy, all went well for a year.


Then in 2015 whilst undergoing surgery for an incisional hernia, more melanoma tumours were found.  Hannelie was given the heart-wrenching news that all her pelvic organs would have to be removed: bladder, urethra, rectum and anus.  Her life was about to change forever.  This was when she contacted the CANSA stoma clinic. 


“They were amazing’, Hannelie says, ‘and even introduced me to someone who had undergone the same operation’.  I knew that, with their support and that of my family and friends, together with my faith in God, I would still live.” 


Getting used to living with the two stoma pouches, and unable to sleep comfortably, every day would bring new challenges, and Hannelie often ended up helpless and in tears.


But, “I received the most incredible support from the CANSA stoma clinic therapists – without these angels in my life, I wouldn’t have made it.”


And then, cancer struck again in the form of stage 4 with multiple metastases and nodules being found in Hannelie’s lungs and liver.  She was devastated.


Overcoming the various obstacles to immunotherapy treatment, Hannelie felt herself blessed to receive approval for four treatments.  But that was all.


Hannelie’s cancer has stabilised.  She went on early retirement from work.  She lives a happy life doing all the things she didn’t have time for before.  And she’s become a CANSA volunteer, joining you in supporting cancer survivors on their journey.


Above all, in the quotation below, this is Hannelie’s message which comes from her own experience:  “Cancer is not a death sentence, but rather a life sentence. It pushes one to live.” (Marcia Smith)