Beyond treatment

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WELCOME TO SAMOA: LIFE CON Explosion welcomes former Miss Samoa and Miss South Pacific, Janine Tuivaiti to Samoa.

WELCOME TO SAMOA: LIFE CON Explosion welcomes former Miss Samoa and Miss South Pacific, Janine Tuivaiti to Samoa.

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Manamea Apelu-Schwalger

Nothing holds more true for someone like myself than an old saying, Time is not measured by clocks, but by moments.

I have been home three weeks already. I have swum amongst the fish in the clear blue of Lalomanu’s ocean. 

I have danced on the Siumu beach and have sat in my parent’s umu on a Sunday morning. I have landscaped my gardens for the thousandth time and laid a million kisses on my Tuimoana’s head.

In another two weeks, I head back to the Auckland winter to resume palliative treatment to prolong my life. 

I now have to endure injections of HER2+cancer killing chemicals every three weeks for as long as it works in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Though the price of walking the earth a little longer also means living apart from my loved ones, I for one have no cause for complain. 

I am one of the few lucky ones. I remember oh so vividly, the prayers I whispered through the night that I was given the 3 months left to live prognosis. I was coughing blood at the time and was unable to walk, let alone sit up without assistance. I cried for life. I asked out loud even. For at least a year if at all possible, if it was at all within his Master Plan.

The answer he has granted thus far is beyond any words. I feel like a walking miracle.

I really am one of the few lucky ones. I know many who have walked this path before me and have not lived to tell their story. Cancer is hard enough and being a cancer patient in Samoa is much, much harder.

There is no treatment available on our shores for Breast Cancer nor any other type of cancer. At least not yet. I always live in hope.

In my darkest moments whilst fighting for my life, I had to reach out to the community for financial assistance. The cost of one cycle of treatment can feed a Samoan family for quite some time. The community response was oh so overwhelming. And it has not stopped.

Janine Tuivaiti has recently arrived on our shores again. Her mother is a breast cancer survivor. Mary Jane Moe Mckibbin Schwenke touched ground in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

Eight former Miss Samoa titleholders will walk the catwalk once more in the name of charity, for the Life Com Pink Initiative. They have come in full force to show support for one of their own and honour Samoa’s breast cancer survivors. It will be the first time all five winners of the Ms. Samoa and Ms. South Pacific titleholders will gather under one roof. 

I am still speechless, to say the least.

In the last stages of cancer, palliative care include keeping your loved one comfortable. In Auckland, professional care givers in a hospice cater to all your needs using state of the art equipment with readily available pain relievers. 

As a non-resident of New Zealand, I was not allowed access to this service. To help relieve my breathlessness at home, professional oncology nurses came to our aid through the services provided by the Auckland Breast Cancer Society as part of their affiliation with our very own Samoa Cancer Society.

I have requested that any funds raised in my name be given to the Samoa Cancer Society.

Despite the lack of resource and specialized doctors for cancer in Samoa, I live in hope. God will provide, I am sure. My faith has grown from its mustard seed size. Mountains are moveable.

Time may not be on my side but I have discarded my fears of an unknown future.

The written word says, for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. God Grant you a Peaceful Sunday Samoa.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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