A government minister’s personal testimony on how cancer took his son’s life struck home the point of how the disease did not discriminate.
The Samoa Cancer Society (SCS) collected over $88,000 in much needed funding from its Bluesky Shave, Save or Dye fundraising initiative, but it was the personal testimony of the then then Acting Prime Minister Lautafi Selafi Purcell on how he lost his four-year-old son, which touched patrons and fundraising supporters.
“I lost my youngest son 22 years ago. He would have been 26 years old on November 22. You may wonder why I have not been visibly involved with the Samoa Cancer Society and as I have indicated earlier, we handled our grief in our own way,” he said.
“As a parent, the question that I had to answer every minute of the day is why. Why not someone else but then I evaluated my thoughts and I cursed myself for ever wishing this on someone else? Then comes the feeling of guilt. Did I do everything possible to save him? But hope is a word that was precious to me and my family to the bitter end.”
The deadly disease also claimed the lives of Lautafi’s close relatives. These included his older sister, a 10-year-old nephew, and a brother-in-law. Another nephew is currently undergoing treatment.
The society’s marketing manager Leilani Jackson said in an interview with Samoa Observer that the event at the Taumeasina Island Resort last Friday evening was well attended by people from all walks of life.
“The event reflected in the diversity and calibre of individuals who put their hand up to shave for the Cancer Society. On the night, from the collection of pledges, the impromptu shaves, the siva Samoa, the monies collected amounted to $88,055,” she added.
During the event, Lautafi also expressed confidence in the Government’s working partnership with the society, and said they were committed to the cause.
”We are committed to ensuring the latest state of the art treatment and facility are available for our cancer patients. Just today I signed approvals for no less than four patients to go to India for treatment. The Government also supports all global efforts and research towards finding a cure for cancer,” he said, before making a personal donation of $1000 towards the fundraising initiative.
The main edition of today’s Sunday Samoan incorrectly reported that it was the Minister for Education, Sports and Culture Loau Solamalemalo Keneti who lost his son to cancer. The newspaper apologises for the error and regrets the confusion and inconvenience it caused to the Minister and his family.