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?!!

24 September 2008

What's the next hardest thing...?

What's the next hardest thing after a cancer diagnosis, a full mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and raising teenagers?
Fundraising. If it weren't for that then it could have been raising teenagers but 8 months on since we started most definitely it has to be fundraising.

The support I've had with each event has always been overwhelming and always you lose yourself in the atmosphere. An atmosphere of absolute elation and unspeakable gratitude to immeasurable heights but it's always the lead up to fundraising events that strikes the absolute side of my human nature that I detest with a passion. Runaway stress, burning anger and rotten guilt just to name a few.

It's a toughie and one I struggled with while still in treatment hence the reason I dipped out from the fundraising committee matters. And really who needed to have a bald woman released from hospital, high on steroids, sleep deprived and erratic at the best of times attend meetings??? But even without that bald woman on steriods at those meetings you have to truly appreciate the committee's efforts because it's bloody hard work not just physically but mentally.

The flip side to all that are close family and friends who see you through it and the generous folks that think nothing of sending donations and the well wishers who support with their presence and the strangers who give something of their experiences to help another stranger and the true friends who encourage from the front (be it email, phone calls, lattes or vino catch ups) and prominent figures who help to further my cause and the new relationships that are formed and old ones that you wondered if they still existed but now you know for sure they don't so you no longer have to wonder about...they are blessings worth counting because they all far outweigh the downfalls of fundraising.

What's the next hardest thing after fundraising?

Finding another way to sincerely thank from the bottom of my heart the many, many who give up their time, finances, love and themselves. I mean how many ways and times can you say "I cannot thank you all enough, thank you, thank you so very much"?

13 September 2008

Helpful hints to all the sisters out there

Just the other week while waiting in the oncology reception area I saw, if you like, a new graduate class of cancer victims waiting with bandanas, beanies or scarves for their chemo treatments. I flashed anyone who caught my eye a reassuring 'I know I have been there' smile and then pondered the last 11 months.
Next month I will have completed and won the first year's battle against breast cancer with many many mixed emotions both good, bad and down right hilarious!

A wonderful work colleague I met years ago just the other day sent me an encouraging letter and the book, Surviving Breast Cancer by Carolyn Weston which I devoured in one night. I got so much out of reading the living stories of breast cancer survivors I couldn't put it down and would thoroughly recommend this to others out there who have come face to face with cancer!

I think it would be timely to include helpful hints for women out there who are about to embark on the most bizarrest trip of their life!

1. Be kind to yourself (why put yourself through the stress when you don't need to or it) and take to heart the old saying, 'one day at a time' and practise it

2. Keep a positive attitude because there is always someone else out there that is much worse off than yourself

4. Cry and don't hold back even when the kids look at you sideways and the neighbours can hear

5. Surround yourself with good, strong, honest and crazy people

6. Rockburn Pinot Noir or Falling Waters (Chi'i with 42 Below Vodka Feijoa flavour & if you have time a slice of cucumber) in moderation of course...buwahahahaha

7. Ask every specialist you see 101 questions because it is your right and your health

8. Tell your loved ones when you are having the day from hell and need 'head clearing' space

9. Accept help from everyone that offers it

10. Take someone with you to all your appointments particularly if you are having chemo for a good chinwag and someone to drive you home (applies to radiotherapy appointments as well)

11. Expect to have meltdowns throughout the entire journey - even during the 11th month - and don't beat yourself up for it either, just get up and get on with it.

12. Take a chill pill and decide not to stress the wee things that don't really matter in the bigger picture

13. Don't expect too much from your partner and remember you will get through it all - together whether it be kicking or screaming

14. Cancer doesn't make your family immune to 'teenage dramas' or life in general so pick your fights carefully and reserve your energy for the unexpected

15. Celebrate every milestone and share your experience with others because I know those that shared with me helped me more than they will ever come to realise.