KALLAROO mother-of-two Jovanka Hawkins says nothing compares with the fear of fighting for your life when confronted with a breast cancer diagnosis.
“I was young, healthy and had no family history,” she said.
“I never thought in a million years I’d be diagnosed with breast cancer at age 29.
“The girls were so young – Scarlett wasn’t quite three and Violet was just eight months old – and (husband) Paul was away overseas when I received the shock diagnosis.
“I kept the news to myself until he returned home then three days later I was in surgery.”
She then began a two-year battle she was determined to win.
“It was a rollercoaster,” Mrs Hawkins said.
“I encountered six surgeries, the same number of aggressive chemotherapy rounds and a double mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery.
“I lost my hair during chemo and was admitted to hospital numerous times for infections.”
Mrs Hawkins said it was her protective instincts as a young mother that made her the most determined to face the challenge head on.
“I gave myself no choice but to make it through treatment,” she said.
“I was determined to survive; I desperately wanted to watch my girls grow up.
“So I put my blinkers on, kept working, fought my way through treatment and here I am, thankful for every single day I get to spend with Paul and the girls.”
Now the survivor is preparing to take park in the Mother’s Day Classic on May 12 – her fourth year with Paul, Scarlett (6) and Violet (4).
Held at the Supreme Court Gardens, participants can enter 4km walk or 8km walks or runs.
Mrs Hawkins said as well as enjoying the day’s atmosphere, it was an opportunity to pay tribute to those affected by breast cancer and raise much-needed funds for research.