1 Korintiërs 13:
4 Die liefde is lankmoedig en vriendelik; die liefde is nie jaloers nie; die liefde praat nie groot nie, is nie opgeblase nie,
5 handel nie onwelvoeglik nie, soek nie sy eie belang nie, word nie verbitterd nie, reken die kwaad nie toe nie,
6 is nie bly oor die ongeregtigheid nie, maar is bly saam met die waarheid.
7 Dit bedek alles, glo alles, hoop alles, verdra alles.
8 Die liefde vergaan nimmermeer;
In die wêreld waarin ons vandag leef, waar negatiwiteit en opgee die norm geword het, dink ek dat jy sal saamstem dat ons helde nodig het.
Daardie mense wat ons inspireer om aan te hou, te verbeter, te vertrou en te hoop. Tanya was, nee, IS ’n ware heldin. ‘n Heldin van uithou en aanhou, ‘n heldin van die huwelik, ‘n heldin van ouerskap, ‘n heldin van die LIEFDE! Mag elkeen wat haar storie lees inspireer word om voluit te leef, voluit aan te hou, selfs in die onmoontslikste omstandighede, en bowenal om voluit life te hê.
Ek deel haar verhaal, soos geskryf deur haar man Greyling Moolman. Tanya, die mooiste braafste heldin – liefde verpersoonlik.
“Tanya fought cancer for the most part of her adult life. She first was diagnosed with bone cancer, an osteosarcoma, when she was 19 years old. She had to stop her studies in Bloemfontein to fight the cancer. She beat the cancer the first time around, and went into remission after severe chemo therapy.
Between Tanya’s first and second cancer battle, we met in February 2013. We started dating soon thereafter in March 2013.
The second cancer battle was when she was 22 years old in 2014. She fought the cancer for 7 months from February to August before going into remission again after her second chemo therapy. She turned 23 in August.
For a while, everything in her life seemed to go well. She was an exceptional student, strongly on her way to obtain her B.Ed. degree with a cum laude. We bought a home and moved in together. She got a post as a temporary teacher at the local school. She loved what she was doing. Everything seemed perfect.
Tanya’s whole life dream was to be a mother. She expressed this dream regularly, however she was told by doctors that she would be unable to fall pregnant, because she was subjected to such severe chemo therapy throughout her young life, which would have damaged her whole body, including her fertility.
In February 2016, we were delighted to find out that she was expecting. This came as a huge surprize, as we thought we would never be able to have kids of our own. However, the amazing news was short lived. For a while, Tanya again felt a lump on her backside muscles. 2 Weeks after we found out that she was pregnant, she had to go in for the operation to remove the lump from her bum. The autopsy was sent away for tests, and when the results returned, it was again confirmed that cancer was growing inside her body. I will never forget the uncontrolled anguish and outcries when we heard the news. It was devastating. So many questions rose: Why her? Why couldn’t she just lead a normal, happy life?
Suddenly, she was thrown into a life decision: Should she start with chemo therapy again right away, and risk her baby dying? She would have none of it. She would not let her dream go of being a mother. She would postpone the chemo therapy, to a later stage, until such time that her baby grew strong enough to also be able to handle and deal with the chemo that she would receive, and to give her growing baby a chance to become strong enough. The risk she took in this was that it also allowed the cancer to take hold of her. She was, essentially, risking her life to give her baby a chance at life – the ultimate sacrifice.
Tanya felt her baby growing in her body. After the operation and during the pregnancy, she stopped going to work at the local school. However, she did continue her studies at university. We got married in May 2016.
I remember how, every night, she would sit and read books about her baby’s development, follow the timeline day by day of what her baby was experiencing inside her. It was as if she was continually striving to forge a relationship with her baby, and she was determined to do everything to get him strong and healthy. Appropriately, she chose his name: Liam.
Incidentally, and unknowing the appropriateness of the name at the time, it means “Strong-willed warrior and protector”.
Tanya’s condition deteriorated steadily, as she became weaker, with less energy, and coughing more and more (maybe we were determined to be blind to her body’s deterioration, determined to ignore it, as we kept on believing, and always believed that things would turn out for the better). One Saturday in June, she sent me a picture: It was a piece of bloody tissue that she coughed up, held in the palm of her hand. The piece of tissue was sent off again for testing, and when the results returned, it confirmed our fears again: It was a tumour. It was clear; the cancer had spread throughout her body, and was in her lungs again as well.
At this stage, her oncologist and gynaecologist worked closely together, and advised us that there was no other choice: She had to start with chemo therapy right away if she was to stop the cancer from consuming her, to give her a chance to survive her cancer battle at all. They assured us that the baby should have developed to be strong enough to absorb the chemo at this stage. It was such a difficult place to be in: Tanya’s life was in danger, but to try to save her own life, she would risk her baby’s life. But we trusted the doctor’s judgement that Liam was strong enough by that time.
Two weeks after our consultation with the doctors, Tanya started with her first chemo therapy session.
On recommendation of the oncologist, we got Tanya an oximeter (A device to measure saturation) as this was the first indicator that she had enough oxygen in her bloodstream for baby Liam to receive as well. She kept it with her always.
There were a few scares: We did go to the hospital once or twice when she felt cramps in her womb. Whenever we got to the hospital in such circumstances, she desperately demanded that they please just check that her baby was still alive and fine in her. It was all she ever cared about.
I remember specifically how she posted on Facebook, exclaiming once again that she would not be beat under, that she would keep fighting, and continue to stay positive, as she always did. She had so much braveness in her. And she did always have a smile on her face. When people asked her how it was going, the answer would always come: “Goed dankie, en jy?” (Fine thanks, and you?). But I, being close with her in our private moments, saw that her mask did sometimes drop, however, it did not happen often. I specifically remember how she approached me one night while I was in my study: I turned around to see her standing in the doorway; her eyes were full of tears, as she whispered: “My lief, hoekom dink ek so baie aan die dood?” (My love, why do I think about death so much?), and she fell into me, crying uncontrollably.
She had her birthday on the 12th of August 2016. She turned 25.
As time passed, she kept on studying, she kept on reading books about her baby’s development, she kept on showing me pictures of what he looked like in her womb every night, she played music for him, and I imagine the conversations she had with him when no one was around. We visited our oncologist often. But she did grow weaker and weaker. Her hair started thinning and falling out after about 3 weeks again because of the chemo. Her constant coughing did not ease. Her energy levels depleted more and more. She could not stand up in the shower, and being such a tiny lady, she would lie down in the shower, and she often asked that I pick her up when she was done, as she could not get up on her own. In this time, I do not know when, she scratched her baby boy’s name out on a tile at the bottom of the shower: Liam.
I later thought about the engravement of Liam’s name, it was as if she engraved everything she gave up for him. Engraving how much she loved him even before he was born. As if to say, “Mommy loves you, Mommy will love you always, even if I am not here when you get here.”
We had her baby shower on Saturday the 27th of August. So many people showed up, and they showered her with gifts. I remember how she sent me a picture at the time, telling me how good she felt to just be able to go out and put on makeup again. It was a lovely day, made possible by my mother, Magda Moolman, who organized the whole event.
On the Monday, Tanya started complaining about feeling distressed. She checked her oxygen levels, and at the time, it showed it was still fine. We went to bed that night as per usual. But Tanya could not sleep, she kept on feeling asphyxiated. She kept on saying that she felt like she could not breathe. It went on into the hours of the morning. After a while, we tried to make a bed in the corner of the room, so she could try to sit up and sleep. But to no avail. I remember how I took a picture of her in the corner of the room, and she put on a brave smile, as always.
When we checked her oxygen levels then, it was alarmingly low (It always had to be above 90, and at this stage we had a figure of 60). We took her to the hospital at Midvaal right away at around 03h30, where they put her on oxygen. But she said that it wasn’t getting better. But she could not absorb oxygen.
In the morning hours, around 05h30, an ambulance transferred her to Medi-clinic. At around 09h00, she started showing early labour signs. We kept on trying to get a hold of a doctor to have a look at her. And when the nurses came to have a look at her again, they said that she was going into labour. Tanya’s body could not hold the baby any more. They immediately organized that she gets an emergency cesar. They rushed her to the theatre. I was still putting on my scrubs to go into the theatre with her. They put her under sedation, as they said she would not survive an epidorial.
And Liam was born, prematurely on 31 and half weeks. It was 30 August 2016.
Tanya did not see Liam; she did not get to hold him. But I believe God showed him to her.
Tanya was taken to ICU, where they kept her under sedation. She never woke up (she once came up, trying to fight all the pipes attached to her as the nurses pushed her back down. Maybe it was just reflexes. Maybe it was her subconscious, desperately keeping her aware that she wanted to see her baby. It lasted only a couple of seconds. I sat by her bedside until late that night, speaking with her softly, about our past and future. I said goodbye to her that night, determined for her to hear my voice, trying to make her hear that she had a baby boy waiting for her, needing his mother. I gave her a kiss, and left.
The next morning, Tuesday the 31st of August at about 06h30, we received a phone call at home. It was the hospital. They informed us that Tanya was regressing. We left for the hospital. We stood by her bed. We saw her pulse slowing down. Her lungs were unable to absorb any oxygen anymore, as the cancer consumed it entirely. It was 08h00 or somewhere there. Tanya passed away.
Tanya left behind her mother, father, brother, husband, and new-born baby boy Liam. It is difficult to say whether Tanya would have survived the cancer battle had she started earlier with chemo therapy, instead of delaying it. Tanya loved her baby boy with her whole life, even before he was born, that she would always have made any sacrifice, even risk her own life. She had unprecedented determination, unbreakable fighting spirit, and an unconditional love for her baby; she would always have taken the battle on her shoulders. Tanya wanted to be a mother with everything she had, and would have done anything and everything for Liam to give him a chance at life. I know in my heart that she will watch him, see him grow, watch him live out his life, until Tanya and her baby Liam are reunited one day.