Sonya van Gent, the new owner of Everydays cafe in Beaudesert, has a lot more on her plate than selling a business, running a business and setting up yet another business.
The 46-year-old proprietor of Canungra’s award-winning Bean In cafe and its sister shop Bean To in Beaudesert, has been fighting a very personal battle with cancer.
Ms van Gent said she had decided to sell Bean In after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in April.
“I needed to focus on mum’s chemo and that’s the only reason I decided to sell the Canungra cafe, even though I’ve been there for ten years and loved every minute.
“After mum’s diagnosis Bean To hosted a Biggest Morning Tea, where myself and two of my staff had our heads shaved to raise funds for cancer research.”
Ms van Gent said the event raised $10,000 for the Cancer Council and she didn’t even know that she would soon be fighting her own private battle with the disease.
“Eight weeks ago I decided to have a lump in my left breast checked again,” she said.
“I’d had that lump since my daughter was three-years-old and she’s now 21, so it’s been there a lot of years.
“It was always passed off as just nothing, something that happens when you have children, and it was never biopsied because I was considered too young to have breast cancer.
“It turns out I had two tumours, one in each breast.
“On October 31 I had a double mastectomy and the best halloween costume ever with my impressive scar.
“I had to go back to hospital 10 days later to have lymph nodes removed too, but I’ve never shed a tear about my situation.
“Cancer is like a dragon and I’m a dragon slayer, I just think, you want to give it to me? Well, bring it on because I’m a fighter and I have stuff to do in this life.”
Ms van Gent said her mother, who was scheduled for the same operation to remove both breasts just before Christmas, was still lending a hand in the coffee shop on most days even though chemo had often left her drained of energy.
She said her father and adult children also supported her, as did her staff, who were more like family and many of whom had worked for her on and off for ten years.
“I’m really excited about taking over Everydays cafe, we are going to do something different and fresh there,” Ms van Gent said.
“We might look at opening in the evenings, maybe even having a tapas bar.
“I’ve lived in Beaudesert for 14 years, I love this town and I love the people here.
“We are open 365 days a year and Christmas morning at Bean To is just the best.
“A lot of people had a hard time in 2017, so I think we just need to get rid of this year and move on to the next.
“I just want to kill this thing that got inside me and I will not let it win.
“People have suggested reconstructive surgery but I’m keeping the scar, and every time I look in the mirror I can say to cancer, you tried and you failed and even if you try again you will not get me.”