“Happiness, prayers keep me going”

A 79-year-old Samoan woman is fighting cancer by replacing fear with joy and optimism supplemented by daily prayers. 

Vaito’elau Nofoagatotoa, of Vaivase-tai, shared her story on her battle with cancer with the Samoa Observer, after a church service on Sunday to mark the World Cancer Day.

A mother to 12 children, she said she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 when she was in New Zealand for a medical check-up. 

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2011 when I was in New Zealand for a check-up and underwent various treatments. 

“I visited a specialist doctor in Auckland City. The doctor said that there is no real worry, but when I returned to Samoa, there were treatments available through tablets to take – that can prolong my life,” she said.

Currently, Vaito’elau is receiving treatment at home, and the fatality of cancer worried her at one point. 

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“At the moment I am treated at home or home care, so I drink pills and take my medicine. Before I was a bit worried because I was well aware that cancer leads to death – even if we undergo surgery or not – it still ends in death.”

At home Vaito’elau said she does light work like collecting the laundry or sweeping the rubbish. And her outlook on life – despite her predicament – is positive as she said it is important to be happy and not dwell on her condition.

“But for me I do not worry about being sick with cancer. I am a woman that is filled with immense happiness, because with the more joy that I have within myself, the more that I forget about any worries concerning cancer,” she said.

Having being diagnosed eight years ago, Vaito’elau said cancer has a high mortality rate, but she now has no fears of death as she relies on her daily prayers. 

“If I die from cancer I have no fear – everyone dies one way or another and in a time no one knows. I depend on God through daily prayer, I also believe that this is a way that has allowed me to have prolonged life, despite being sick.

“I advise those that are sick with cancer to have patience and to pray endlessly to our heavenly father because there is no one greater than him. But we must always keep in mind that it is his will that will always be done whether we live or die.

“But build within yourselves happiness to combat the pain and fear against cancer, because if our fate is to die from this disease, then we have to accept that everyone dies,” she added.

Vaito’elau thanked the Samoa Cancer Society for continuing to mark World Cancer Day annually and the work it does to raise awareness.  

“It (World Cancer Day) is such a significant initiative for those that have just discovered they are cancer patients, so that they will be informed through awareness programmes about the various help provided by the SCS.”

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