For Like minded people who like to see-
Part of the reason I now stand for public office was due to the encouragement and patient prodding of my good mate Tina Hunter. She knew I was frustrated by the lack of accountability of elected members, and the disappearance of good old fashioned common sense from the public debate. Although Tina and I differed in opinion on just about everything she held important, I cherished her steady friendship through the years.
I well remember when Tina was first diagnosed with Ovarian cancer. She was fit and just over 50 years old, with three girls to catapult into full adulthood. She was out of breath on one particular bicycle ride: after 50 km, she had just a wee bit of trouble breathing. She wisely went to the doctor to see what was wrong.
At the end of May in 2008, we all learned the terrible truth. Tina had been diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian cancer. I will never forget the long face on her youngest daughter as she walked out of the house to take it all in. We all had hoped that she had been given a ‘free upgrade’ - maybe she really had Stage III and had a fighting chance. I recall her first consultation with the oncologist, Dr. Paul Mainwaring: I asked how long Tina would have to live if she simply did nothing. Dr Mainwaring looked at the five of us and said bluntly: “Tina will have weeks to live, not months”.
I think we all regrouped, and consumed one bottle of Tina’s finest champagne: it was all part of the Doctor’s Orders on the day.
Tina was so brave; so adamant that she would beat this thing. Tina was a theatre nurse, who incidentally had the very best emergency medical kit I have ever seen in my life. The day before her first surgery, to remove the cancer (like grains of rice spread throughout her abdomen) she leaned forward and said to the surgeon: “You are not going to do passive surgery on me are you?”, meaning that the surgeon was not to open her up, and close her again if the chances were slim that surgery would not help. The surgeon took notice, and Tina was some five hours in surgery having had her omentum and all of those ‘grains of rice’ removed, leaving a speck of cancer on the bowel, and the cancer just barely present in the lining of the lung: the pleural effusion.
The cancer took her, slowly and surely. Tina battled on for almost three years, making every hurdle placed in front of her. At the end, she gave final instruction to her family, took the time to write notes to her three girls, and then she slipped into infinity on the 28th of January 2011, almost three years after the initial diagnosis.
I have no hesitation in supporting the need to raise the public awareness of this sneaky cancer, and the good work and research needed to find some sort of ‘early warning’ to help women get an early diagnosis and a much needed leg up to help them beat this cancer.
I miss Tina. She would be amongst the first I would talk to if something funny, stupid or just plain hysterical happened. But my loss is painfully thin compared to others more profoundly affected: her beautiful daughters, her mother, her nursing sisters and her wide circle of friends.
I would urge all women to speak to their GP, and learn about the seemingly innocuous symptoms that could be the silent killer: ovarian cancer.
This is a beautiful memorial to your friend.
It is not easy to find the words to write about those you have loved.
Thank you Dale and Joanne, this anniversary has been a tough one. And Tina wanted as many people to know about this condition as possible.