My moment with our beloved P.M. Tuilaepa

Ernest Hemingway once said, the world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are very strong at the broken places. I for one have much to say about being broken, and yes I agree, it has given me strength, inner strength if anything.

I finally had the honour of meeting a very busy man, one whom I know amongst many others was most instrumental in saving my life.

 I went to thank him and for once I whom knows no fear, of man, nor cancer, was speechless. In this intimate space, I could barely give voice to my words of absolute gratitude, nor could I give voice about the long journey I had travelled with cancer in Samoa, in the last 3 years. 

I recall my first public speech advocating for cancer at a World Cancer Day event where he sat front row alongside the Minister of Health some two years ago. 

I prayed that our leaders look to bringing cancer specialists to our shores. I made mention of two patients who went home peacefully, to farewell their loved ones. They were in their last stages of cancer. To prolong one’s life for the advanced cancer patient, is next to impossible here.

And so my bout with cancer continues and I am still undergoing treatment for advanced breast cancer in Auckland. 

At every chance I get, I ask for the possibility of cancer treatment to come home. My oncologist once told me earlier this year that if we had sterile conditions for administering my IV form of treatment and Samoa have trained oncology nurses to monitor this process, she would consider my plead. I have since found that we have a unit up in Paediatrics set up to administer chemotherapy and there is a licensed oncology nurse on island. 

Suffice to say, my oncologist when told of this has now said the pharmaceutical company requires a fully certified oncology stationed in Samoa to monitor my progress. This has not dampened my spirits at all, it has only laid out a path of possibilities, not just for me, but for many others with cancer, who travel and will travel this pathway.

 I laugh at every punch my cancer adversary swipes at me these days, my wounds still healing from our last dance in the ring. The Almighty has given me a second lease in life to punch back and I live not in dread of cancer and its eventual impact on my broken body. Instead I remember that in Romans it is written, ‘ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him .’

I had many things to say to the busy man I saw earlier this week. I even prayed hard for the right words to come and my speech to miraculously be Samoan eloquent and intelligent. It did not come, God in his all knowing agrees that my strength comes not from speech, but it comes from writing. Even Hemingway says, write one true sentence, write the truest sentence you know. So I have written this talismanic man four pages long of the truest sentences I know about living with cancer in Samoa. 

In the small space of his office, really wanted to burst out loud, and return the love I was shown, but instead I quietly asked for a picture to be taken and a signature on his book. 

He obliged, and to my horror, I forgot to remove my sunglasses. And so perhaps my only picture with our legendary leader is with me looking like a dumbfounded tourist. Never mind, there are many more important things than my vanity.

 Faafetai tele lava, mai le taele  o lo’u fatu, mo le fesoasoani i le faasaoina o le ola o lenei afafine. Ae le gata i lea, mo galuega o loo faagasolo pea aua le tautuaina o o tatou tagata. 

Faafetai i lo outou faititi faitama. Ieova i lo tatou va. God grant you a peaceful Sunday Samoa.

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