Young mother of two and breast cancer survivor Jovanka Hawkins is adamant nothing will stand in her way when she makes Mother’s Day mean more by walking in this year’s Mother’s Day Classic in Perth.
Participating in the event for the fourth year with husband Paul and young daughters, Scarlett (6) and Violet (4); Jovanka states firmly that 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. 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 8 months old. Paul was away overseas when I received the shock diagnosis. I kept the news to myself until he returned home. Three days later I was in surgery,” said Jovanka.
What began then for the young courageous mother of two, was a two-year battle Hawkins was determined to win.
“It was a rollercoaster. I encountered six surgeries, the same number of aggressive chemotherapy rounds and a double mastectomy, followed by reconstructive surgery,” said Jovanka. “I lost my hair during chemo and was admitted to hospital numerous times for infections.”
Hawkins admits that 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. My girls were so young, they’re still so young. 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,” said Mrs Hawkins.
And whilst many might give themselves permission to rest following their first chemotherapy round, Hawkins drew on her formidable strength and attended the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) luncheon held in Perth. And it was there she met breast cancer fundraising advocate and football commentator, Shane Crawford, who took to social media in sharing his admiration of Hawkins fighting spirit.
“Awesome effort by Jovanka to come to the breast cancer lunch in Perth today,” said Crawford.
“Shane Crawford was a guest speaker at the BCNA luncheon, there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to meet with him. It was an incredible day. Shane is beyond inspiring and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet him” said Mrs Hawkins.
Yet it’s not always easy, acknowledges Hawkins, who continues with regular check-ups, admitting that sometimes it’s the psychological trauma of fighting for your life that often brings the biggest struggle. “I wake up every single day and tell myself how grateful I am for my life, but it’s tough sometimes. The two years of treatment was gruelling. It’s difficult to forget,” said Mrs Hawkins.
Participating in the Mother’s Day Classic, alongside family and friends, is how Hawkins chooses to make Mother’s Day mean more for her and those close to her. Aside from enjoying the day’s atmosphere, Hawkins states it’s an opportunity to pay tribute to those affected by breast cancer, whilst at the same time, raising much needed funds for research.
“I love spending Mother’s Day with my family at the Mother’s Day Classic. The entertainment and activities on the day are great,” she says. “Rain, hail or shine, or even in the freezing cold, I will be there to participate for everyone affected by breast cancer. The survivors, the suffering, the taken. And also, for their families,”
“The funds raised by the event are so very important. Raising money ensures that breast cancer research continues. Without funding, there is no hope for a cure.”