Cancer survivor moves on with life

VANI Smith has been a cervical cancer survivor for over a decade and still can clearly recall the day she was diagnosed positive after giving birth to her youngest son.

The 39-year-old from Marou, Naviti in Yasawa, said she began having abdominal pains eight months after the birth of her son.

“After a few more scans and ultrasound tests and another Pap smear I was referred to a gynaecologist,” Ms Smith said.

“When the results came back, I was told, I had cancer and that it was ICN3 (stage 3) cancer and was advised to undergo a full hysterectomy (surgery to remove all or part of the womb) as soon as possible.

“I had my full hysterectomy in April 2006 where my uterus and both ovaries were removed.”

Ms Smith said she began to suffer complications soon after the surgery.

“I was unable to walk, I could not eat or sit or even stand up and even with morphine I could still feel the pain.

“I spent over two months in hospital in so much pain, lost my hair, lost weight and had three tubes inserted in me at one time.

“After three months the doctors told us there was nothing more they could do as the cancer had spread and those were the darkest days of our lives.”

She added her children were excited to see her return home, but the pain was visible and restricted their level of interaction.

In 2007, the Smith family moved to New York in America through work commitments of her husband, Mason Smith.

After a medical checkup in New York, Ms Smith went through another minor surgery and has since experienced no further abdominal pain again.

“Back here in Fiji, my family was so happy to see me well and healthy and walking straight and upright again.

“My family and I are now back in Fiji and have started our business and have moved on with life.

“Now, when I think back, I thank God for everything and for giving me all these years to live with my family, friends and loved ones.”

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