At Pinktober, family turns loss into lesson

Amongst a sea of wistful faces at Friday's Pinktober programme in town, the family of late Maria Skelton Tagiilima's stood out. 

Like many others they were holding a banner as a reminiscence of their loved one and did not hide their emotions during the event. 

Although behind that emotion is determination to ensure that no other family goes through the same heartbreak they did.

Masuisui Mose Tagiilima from Malie, husband of the late Maria, said his wife was diagnosed in 2016 when a lump in her chest was finally examined despite its existence a long while before. She passed away in 2017.

The husband of the late cancer victim said she is sorely missed everyday but they are well aware of the risks of late screening and testing, despite the signs.

He told the Samoa Observer that since that fateful day, his family members have been dedicated into sending out the message regarding early detection and early treatment to minimise similar situations.

“The importance of us being here is to pay tribute and reflect on the seriousness of this illness that cut my time short with my wife," he said.

“But most importantly, this is a way for us to raise awareness for other families on the message for today.”

The late Mrs. Tagiilima’s sister, along with other family members, fly in from overseas yearly for the commemoration day to raise awareness for everyone else in Samoa.

Sieni Skelton Richardson said things happen for a reason and it is great to learn from them.

“Now that we have experienced losing someone to this sickness, we have since then prioritized this day in our family and supported the Samoa Cancer Society in everything that they do," Mrs. Richardson. 

“We need to put things in places and make the job easier for everybody, to get detected early and this way, we can possibly prolong the times we have with families.”

Mrs. Richardson said as a mother she feels obligated to share the message, not only to her family members but also every other female in Samoa to “stand up and get tested”.

“They need to prioritise their life, especially as a mother, my children are important to me, and I need to value my life for the sake of my children.

“The children take me as an example and this way I am able to protect, and eager to make the right decisions for the betterment and future of her family.”

Pinktober 2019 was celebrated through an early morning march and a brief ceremony at the Samoa Tourism Fale on Friday morning.

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