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.


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?!!

20 July 2008

So where to from here...

More freaking fundraising...sigh...for more treatment...sigh...but on the plus side I could even try to get my fat thighs and ass to the gym eventually to start shredding some of the chemo kilos. Okay who am I kidding, teensy weensy baby steps first. I will continue to take our puppy out for walks in the afternoons firstly to oil the almost ceased up bode and then progress s-l-o-w-l-y back to recommence my fitness programme that I had started before I started chemotherapy back in January.

Ice, pictured on the right (our pitbull cross dogo puppy who is now 4 months) took me for a power walk today and when I say power walk I mean he flexed his power (brat but oh so cute puppy) on me by pulling me along our street. I must have been a sight in my ware-whare designer gummies, beanie and long jacket trying to stay balanced...LOL! Of course having had no strength training on my right side or either of my sides for months (okay, years) I used up all of my energy and what was left in the reserve tank trying to be the boss....and failed....and I kid you not, almost fainted at our doorstep when we got back home. Umm I have to confess we live in a very big like fish hook avenue and I only managed to get halfway round it before I had to turn back - we live at the top of the hook end...pathetic I know!....

Alright, this week a call to the oncologist to discuss when I start Herceptin, blood tests for my PVT and results (which I am meant to have at the beginning of every month but I forget or have managed to talk myself out of going to the bleeding room - naughty I know) and finally bring myself to not just book my breast clinic appointment but also remember to attend it for my ultrasound and check up on the new boob. I still have my $1 pocket diary for appointment entries trouble is I forget to enter the bloody appointments....ahh sigh...

19 July 2008

Nuked no more...

I was nuked for the last time yesturday. There was a feeling of excitement, relief and sadness.
Excitement and relief that another phase of my treatment plan had been completed - another chapter closed.
And sadness. Every day for 5 1/2 weeks you allow yourself to become involved to some degree with a team of specialists formed not by choice but for my convenience and my welfare.
My MV4 Radio team made everyday as fun and as seamless as possible. Obviously the necessary qualifications and skills are needed to be there in the first place but you also needed to have that 'x' factor personality to preoccupy, entertain and nurse patients through radiotherapy treatments. Sadly, I will miss them and it will be totally weird not getting called to change into the sexy hospital gown and having them move, shift and mark me up for treatment ever again!
Plus the warm friendly greeting I would receive every afternoon. I will miss Selina with the lolly jar (or was it Serena, oh gosh forgive me, I'll blame the treatment!!!!)

Fatigue. I managed to cope with this through treatment and it has been a different type of fatigue to the chemotherapy fatigue.
Radio fatigue has been constant because good cells were being killed daily and the energy needed to replace the good cells - well it completely overcame me; early on in the piece I gave up fighting it and learnt to listen to my body. So when my eyes could no longer physically stay open, my brain mentally started to shut down and the body went from lethagic to a comatose state, um it was a clear sign to rest completely and my household stopped....hahahaha! Apparently I am to expect to continue to feel the fatigue for another 6 - 8 weeks.

The visible side effects came in the last week of my treatment by what my daughter describes as a huge as hiki - charming! The areas where I've had treatment are clearly visible now and looking like I have been burnt it is also irritable and sore to touch. Time again will heal.

Next chapter, Herceptin.

Angela, Andrew and Dominic - thank you, thank you, thank you!!

11 July 2008

Happy memories banked for life

Toilet bag packed.
Travel bags packed.
Gummies cleaned and packed.
Checklist checked again and again, just in case.
Thunder and heavy rains would not get in the way of this trip. And this time it was not to Acute Oncology at Auckland Hospital!

After a very turbulant 45 minute trip from Auckland to New Plymouth I had finally escaped the daily reminder of cancer. Away from the hospital appointments, oncologists, radiotherapy treatments, blood tests and fundraising for Herceptin.
Actually the only thing that came close to the pains of cancer was the daily Clexane injections for my blood clots but other than that the fantastic group of parents we travelled with, the great netball games witnessed from the sidelines, the enjoyable relaxing evenings over wine, cheese and crackers with the groupie parents, the constant laughter, the snow and our Wellingtonian family who travelled up to New Plymouth to see us too...aaahhhh I didn't want the great feeling of triumph, freedom and happiness to end....and it didn't. Our U15 Netball Waitakere team coming 3rd out of 37 teams and having three of our players selected for the U15 Tournament Team 2008 definitely truimphed over the minor health issue that I encountered in New Plymouth.
I lived for every minute in the moment and it was just the best, the absolute best!!

Many happy memories banked for life - thank you everyone...

02 July 2008

Week 3, radiotherapy

Regularly I feel nauseated, there is tingling and numbness in my right arm (which is not from radiotherapy and more than likely from surgery and chemotherapy), tenderness around my right breast and for crying out loud I have an almost rock hard cement pocket for a breast but it is normal while going through radio and normally subsides and goes back to normal sometime after radio is finished - phew coz it cost a bit that new boob job!

My longsuffering hubby or my darling mate Treez pick me up from either work or home and drive me to and from radiotherapy treatment. I had all intentions of driving myself there and back BUT am very grateful that I don't (and so will Auckland commuters) because immediately after treatment I am doggone tired and can bearly keep my eyes open!

The reason for the fatigue I have been told is because radiotherapy kills the cancer cells from the original site but also kills off the good healthy cells (didn't that think I would have any left after chemo) so my body is using a lot of energy making good healthy cells again. When I get home my family no longer ask what's for dinner because I have already hit the pillow and fallen off to sleep.
I listen to my body a lot more since cancer because this is my second shot at life so I want to preserve and look after me a lot more. It's not selfish and I've learnt to be much kinder to myself.
Far out it took cancer for me to treat me right, look after me better and to be much kinder to me and while it might appear to be all about me it isn't really in the end because if I am not well then my family suffers. So if you look after numero uno, numero uno can be there for everyone else.