Tanya’s Story

My name is Tanya and I was diagnosed with cervical cancer on the 26th April 2016. My world was turned upside down when I got my diagnosis. As a wife, mummy of 3, daughter, and teacher, I thought I was invincible and cancer happened to other people. However I had wonderful support around me which helped me come to terms with my diagnosis. Part of that support came from the amazing Dawn McConnell and team HOPE.

When Dawn found out about me through a mutual friend. She contacted me and offered my hubby and I the use of Hope house whenever we needed it. She continued to support me through the never ending tests and surgery with many words of encouragement. She taught me and helped me stand up to cancer and I knew I could do it because Dawn had done it.

I had a radical hysterectomy and lymph mode dissection on the 21st July 2016. It was a very tough and long operation. Recovery time was anything from 6 mths to a year. It was 6 weeks after my operation when we went to stay at Hope house and it was the perfect time for us. We were able to relax and reflect on the journey we had been on so far. We didn’t really talk openly about cancer in our home as we didn’t tell the kids – I wanted to protect them. So therefore we hadn’t really dealt with my diagnosis ourselves. Until we came to Hope house it gave us the safe space to talk openly about what we’d both been through and what we would do next. There is a real peace about Hope House and that peace gave me a peace – I knew no matter what happened it would be ok.

We had a glorious weekend weather wise and were able to explore the beautiful area around us. Cancer at times felt like an uphill struggle for me but hearing how Dawn and Roy coped with their journey gave me a renewed Hope that helped me cope, shining a light into the darkness of cancer. So I wanted to climb up the mountain/cliff to symbolise how I defeated my own mountain of cancer. We managed it and at the top enjoyed the most beautiful views. I hadn’t been sleeping well prior to coming to Hope House but slept brilliantly there and on both mornings was able to wake up and watch the sunrise. It’s little things like that, that make all the difference in your recovery from cancer.

At Hope house and through our friendship with Dawn I also experience unconditional love. Dawn through all her messages of support and offering Hope house as a place to stay, showed us love. The night we arrived she hugged us and had a wee gift for us both which was completely unexpected but also made us feel loved. But more than that there was a “care package” of bread, milk, fruit etc sitting in the kitchen for us meaning we didn’t have to go out to the shop.

Team Hope and Hope House do so much for some of the most needy people in our society today. When you get cancer you have to give up work, money stops, friendships can fade and you can feel utterly alone and completely overwhelmed with worry for the future. By letting cancer patients and their career/partner stay at Hope house, free of charge, team Hope give practical help and hope to cancer patients like myself.

I have been given the all clear and am now cancer free but my friendship with Dawn continues and will be a life long one thanks to Team Hope’s support. They truly helped me stand up to cancer! My husband and I were so blessed by our time in Hope House that we now want to be able to help others walking the same path as ourselves. There is a famous quote that says “ a single thread of hope is still a very powerful thing”. Hope house have many threads of Hope and I know with continued support they will use it to weave a tapestry of Hope for those facing the biggest fight – the fight for their lives.

Tanya Byers

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