Introduction

Sarvs Falefitu is a 40year old NZ born, Auckland bred Samoan/ Niuean. Sarvs is mother to four teenagers (Kroydon 19 years, Denae 16 years, Kendra 14 years, Grayson 13 years) and has been married to her 'Samoan warrior' for 19 1/2 years.


My gals, Denae (left) & Kendra

My boyz, Grayson (left) and Kroydon

I have breast cancer and so...

This blog has been created in the hopes that I could raise awareness of this 'evil influence that spreads dangerously', according to Collins English Dictionary, Compact Edition, to fundraise to cover the majority of my Herceptin treatment and hopefully this might help other women even in the tiniest way who might be living and dealing to breast cancer also.
I have Grade 2, HER2 positive type cancer and my cancer has moved away from the primary spot and invaded other parts of my body via my lymph vessels and blood vessels. Along with chemotherapy and radiotherapy I will also need Herceptin. NZ only funds Herceptin for 9 weeks but a full 12 months is recommended. I have opted to take the recommended 12 months and it will cost exactly $96,273.60. While some specialists are 'comfortable' with 9 weeks of Herceptin, I am not. I want to attend my teenagers graduations. I need to wave them goodbye when they go on their OE's. I wish to witness them all walk down the aisles, be present at the births of my grandchillens and finally do my big OE with my hubby too - of course without the grandchillens!!! Clearly I have far too much to live for and I implore anyone with time to please support my fundraisers or send any fundraising ideas our way.
Your support will make a lasting difference to my quality of life and I sincerely thank you all in advance for your love and support.

Accolades

Sarvs wishes to acknowledge the amazing staff at St Marks Clinic who at the early days of her breast cancer diagnosis helped and coached her through one of the darkest days of her life.Thank you Michelle, Beverley, Jenny, Tracey, the wonderful surgeons Stephen and Stan. Most importantly Sarvs would like to acknowledge 'Johnny' for having the foresight to establish a beautiful haven such as St Marks Clinic many years ago for women such as herself.


Breakdown of Herceptin costs

Since day dot Dr Mike McCrystal my oncologist has been apologetic of the horrendous Herceptin costs for HER2+ women. Nothing to apologise about Mike it is out of your hands and ours however look closely at what Pharmac and NZ Government are blissfully content in handing to a cancer patient and their loved ones -

Loading dose cost: (1 loading treatment)
Drug cost, delivery (+GST) 500mg $7018.65
Nursing $250.00
Medical $350.00
Consumables $35.00
Hospital charge $100.00
GST $969.20
Sub-total $8722.85 for loading dose at 8mg/kg

Maintenance dose cost: (13 maintenance treatments)
Drug cost, delivery (+GST) 370mg $5251.35
Nursing $250.00
Medical $350.00
Consumables $350.00
Hospital charge $100.00
GST $748.30
Total $6734.65 maintenance dose at 6mg/ kg
Overall total for full course: $96,273.60

So dealing with the diagnosis of breast cancer, losing a breast, having major surgery, being put through chemo treatment, being hospitalised 3 times, going through radiotherapy, getting through the remission period, dealing with the emotional side of this all and then having to fundraise endlessly for Herceptin do you think Pharmac or NZ Government have the right to play God with our lives?!!

21 December 2007

Chemo cocktail (my cancer treatment)

Ingredients:
3 doses Taxotere
3 doses Herceptin
3 doses Fluorouracil
3 doses Epirubicin
3 doses Cyclophosphamide



How to apply:

1. Take 1 dose each of Taxotere and Herceptin. Administer every three weeks, three times ONLY.
2. Take 1 dose each of Fluorouracil, Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide. Administer every three weeks, three times ONLY.

To begin mid-late Jan 08.
Once chemo cocktail has ended begin round of radiotherapy.
Instructions for radiotherapy to follow in the new year after visit to radiotherapist.

http://www.medsafe.govt.nz/Consumers/CMI/t/taxotere.htm
www.breastcancernetwork.org.nz/pages/herceptin_FAQ.html
www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Treatments/Chemotherapy/Individualdrugs/Fluorouracil
www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Treatments/Chemotherapy/Individualdrugs/Epirubicin
www.cancerbackup.org.uk/Treatments/Chemotherapy/Individualdrugs/Cyclophosphamide




Thank you for the love (Fa'afetai mo le alofa)


My dear friend Margaret challenged me to put myself out there and encouraged me to start this blog as there was to be some 'serious money' to be fundraised.
As I am technically challenged and will eventually be drained from my treatments Margaret has put herself out there for me and offered to manage my blog page. An offer that I have accepted. Thanks Margz!!

A kick up the backside to start a blog, an offer to manager my blog and then following it up with a very generous gift of love and support.
The old saying 'actions speak louder than words' ring true with Margaret and her family.
Thank you so much Margerat, Ueta and Hannalei for kickstarting my fundraiser with your generous gift of love and support.

What is Herceptin?

Herceptin contains the ingredient trastuzumab and is an anti-cancer agent.
Herceptin belongs to a class called monoclonal anitbodies.
Herceptin is used to treat a certain type of metastatic (spreading) breast cancer.
Some people with this type of breast cancer have a large amount of protein called HER2 on the cancer cells. Herceptin attaches itself to these HER2 proteins (or receptors) on the cancer cells to stop the growth and mulitplying of these cancer cells.

To find out more about Herceptin you can visit http://www.cancernz.co.nz/

18 December 2007

Rubber meets the road

Oncology appointment. Before meeting with the oncologist I was given homework to complete and to send back to his office.
The very last question was around the level of disclosure. I was to state the level of information I would appreciate eg., full, frank and open discussion or would there be issues I would not be ready to discuss yet?
Me being me stated I wanted full, frank and open - you know grab the bull by the freaking horns and let's just get on with the damned thing.
One hour and ten minutes later I now have more decisions to make. The only upside to that is that I have more time to raise $80k should I choose the full 12 month course of Herceptin.
Yes I am weighing up my options as to whether I wish to risk heart failure and some other 'lovely stuff' if I complete the full 12 month course or the 50/50 chance of cancer not reoccuring. Of course the biggest downside to that is that should it reoccur within 10 years it comes back more aggressive and it will be just a matter of time...
I'm a fighter and I won't have statistics dictate my life.
I need to make the right decision for myself, accept and live with it with no regrets either way. I will be getting down on my knees regularly to do some real soul searching and to find that inner peace that I require for this one.
Tonight I didn't turn on the Christmas tree lights. Note to self: life must continue on as normal as possible.

15 December 2007

Crossroads


August 2007 I had coffee with an 'acquaintance' that I had met through netball earlier in the year. I had no idea it would flourish into the most important friendship and completely change my life.
Our daughters were selected for the same representative team; we loved the sport; we were regular sideline supporters and while away 'on tour' so to speak, I was texting updates of the tournament back to Terry* in Auckland.
Terry* shared with me her cancer diagnosis and I offered my support in any shape or form. I wanted to do so much but I started doubting if it was appropriate and then my intentions turned into weeks of no contact and then guilt set in because I had left it too long.
I recall all too well ending our coffee catch up saying to Terry* 'you call me when you are ready' jumping into my car, lighting up a Marlborough Lights ciggie and then driving off feeling so devasted and absolutely helpless and useless. Words are empty if they are not followed up with actions. Note to self: In future I will ask 'when can I come to visit you?' and then bloody make sure that I call to ask 'what time can I come?'.
September 25, I sent Terry* a text wishing her all the best for the masectomy etc etc etc.
Almost a month later the next time I speak to Terry* we are sharing breast cancer and masectomy experiences. I mean how cruel, crazy and freaky is that!!
Our friendship was forged because of our personal tragedies but I don't think I have laughed so much or hard in such a long time on a regular basis. Along with the love and support from my wonderful family and friends I have been doublely blessed having Terry* to share, talk and cry with.
I believe everything in life has a purpose or happens for a reason. Crossroads noun place where roads intersect
(*Terry, not real name)

10 December 2007

Day 59 and counting...

It's been 59 days since I found the lump in my breast, 54 days since I was diagnosed with breast cancer and 19 days since my masectomy.
I have almost a step by step guide of what happens when one is diagnosed and along the way I have educated, if you like, my family and friends around me too about the in's and out's of having breast cancer.
Tragedy has reunited me with an old school friend and cousins that I grew up with but lost contact while growing up making our own families; cemented new friendships with great people both my husband and I have met through school or sports, engaged us in making new long lasting friendships, shown me the meaning for true friendship and made me appreciate my loving, supportive family more.
No matter what there will always be positives in all aspects of my life and they are all worth celebrating.

I wish to thank all the wonderful staff I came into contact with at both Auckland Surgical Centre and Brightside Hospital who helped me through what could have been a traumatic recovery but wasn't.
You guys just rock!

06 December 2007

D-day the Surgery

November 22, 2007
Before walking through the 'doors of no return' I was surroundered by my supportive family and friend *Terry and her daughter who wished to be there to support me through my surgery at Auckland Surgical Centre.
Filling out forms, being questioned by two nurses, aneathesitist and both my surgeons was routine before my masectomy. Sitting in my sexy gown, matching cap and white surgical stockings in a small waiting room with my husband I am incredibly calm until walking away from him waving good bye.
It was the most surreal experience waking up four hours later having felt absolutely nothing and knowing that my life would never be as it was before my surgery.
A breast reconstruction was an option that I chose to have at the same time as my masectomy. I thought if I could help it I only wanted to have one surgery so just give me a triple whammy. Along with the masectomy I had a mastopexy on the other breast.
When you've no choice about certain things in your life one must look at the positives. Mine after my breast cancer diagnosis: a pair of new 'gals' at almost the age of 40 YIPPEE! I wouldn't have gotten them in a million years had it not been for breast cancer and that is the plain and honest truth.
Celebrate everything in life and look at the positives.