Fighting Cancer for a Cure
Fighting Cancer for a Cure
By Sophie Schroder
A Te Atatu mother of four who has breast-cancer is trying to raise $80,000 for herceptin treatment that she believes will save her life.
Sarvs Falefitu, 39, has grade two HER2-positive cancer, an aggressive cancer in which normal human protein starts to promote the growth of cancer cells.
Herceptin has been known to dramatically reduce breast cancer recurrence in women with this type of cancer.
Mrs Falefitu has started an online blog to help raise awareness among women of the need to check for breast cancer.
“I want to push the mammogram, particularly with Pacific Islanders and Maoris,” she says.
In an effort to raise enough money for a 12-week programme of herceptin treatment, Mrs Falefitu’s sister and friends have set up a committee, which organises events to fundraise for her.
In February, Mrs Falefitu held a walk-a-thon in Mt Roskill.
In March, comediennes Irene Pink, Michele A’Court and Justine Smith performed a comedy show in Queen Street’s Classic Comedy bar with all proceeds going to Mrs Falefitu’s cause.
Pink, the show’s organiser, felt Mrs Falefitu’s plight was particularly worth supporting.
“She’s a 39-year-old mother of four who basically just wants to see her children grow up. I originally saw a picture on a website, and her mother reminded me of my mother,” she says.
Mrs Falefitu has also organised a petition to highlight the need for Government-subsidised herceptin treatment.
She has enlisted the help of local National MP Jackie Blue to prepare the petition legally.
Mrs Falefitu’s sister is organising a concert with well-known New Zealand acts to support the cause.
Mrs Falefitu has dealt with the many difficulties that come with having cancer.
“The chemo itself has been really hard. Physically and emotionally it takes its toll,” she says.
She lists mood swings, weight gain and fatigue as other daily battles she faces.
Mrs Falefitu works for the Labour Department. Her income helps pay the mortgage on the family home that was purchased before the cancer was found.
With four kids in the house, she decided it was best not to move to Australia, where herceptin is government subsidised.
“Having to deal with mum with cancer is one thing, but uprooting them too would be really hard,” she says.
Through the various fundraising events, the committee have raised just over $21,500 of the $80,000 needed for the full herceptin course.
Mrs Falefitu is confident that she will overcome this hurdle in her life.
“Regardless of early or later stages, cancer is cancer and this is a cure,” she says.
To sponsor Mrs Falefitu go to www.fundraiser4sarvs.blogspot.com.