Katrina Erceg with her dog Angus in her Teal Valley home. Katrina has had a traumatic 2013. Photo: Andrew Board.

‘I’m lucky I’m still alive’

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Woman has heart attack, cancer and car crash all in one year

Katrina Erceg can’t wait to see the back of 2013, for her it really has been a year from hell.

She’s had a major heart attack, cancer and a major car accident all within the past 12 months and she says – despite the shocking misfortune – that she feels lucky. Lucky to be alive.

Katrina has lived in Teal Valley for decades and is also the secretary for the Nelson North Country Club. In March this year she had a heart attack while in her home. Her daughter rushed her to the hospital after the attack which left her fortunate to still be alive.

While in hospital she asked the doctors to have a look at a lump that had developed on the side of her face.
It was cancer.

So shortly after recovering from her heart attack, Katrina went to Christchurch for surgery and radiation treatment. The surgeons were able to get all of the cancer out in a six hour operation and Katrina says she was lucky the radiation didn’t knock her around “too much”.

That surgery was done on the Tuesday after Easter and the surgeons told her she had six months of treatment ahead of her.

Just as she started to feel back to normal, seven months after the operation, Katrina was involved in a massive car accident on State Highway 6, near Wakapuaka. The accident happened on November 18 and ended with her in a ditch, unable to get out of the car. Firefighters removed her from the wreck and she was back on her way to hospital in the back of an ambulance.

She was again lucky to escape with just bad bruising and says she can’t wait for New Year’s Eve.

“It will be good to have this year behind me. I don’t want to go through that again,” she joked, in remarkably good spirits considering her experiences over the last nine months. “What a shocker.”

She says she has a naturally laid back personality, which has meant she hasn’t got “too uptight” about any of it.

“Let’s hope [misfortune] comes in threes but I do wonder what’s next sometimes.”

She isn’t going to sit around and sulk about it though, when visited by Nelson Weekly she was in the middle of making cupcakes and sausage rolls for the Nelson North Country Club’s Christmas party for kids that was held over the weekend.

“I don’t dwell on it, I’m just praising that I’m so lucky to come through it all.”