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?!!

04 November 2008

My Breast Cancer Experience (North Shore Hospital)

Now the majority of my hospital experiences have been great compared to what I have heard and what I saw my sister put up with during her hospital stay so if there's one thing that I have learned from it all, it is to stand up and have a voice because it is your health and well being that health professionals are responsible for so expect to be treated with respect, tell them exactly what you are feeling and if you are ever in doubt demand another opinion or seek help where you feel more comfortable.

Unfortunately for me, today I had the displeasure of being subjected to the obnoxious manners of possibly an overworked professional who ain't getting any (yeah I know bit low - but it's my blog). But fortunately a survey put out by WDHB (Waitemata District Health Board) was handed to me before I met the bafoon. Briefly, the survey wanted to know about my breast clinic experience (North Shore Hospital) and what I would like to see improved...weeelll someone was smiling on me today because not only did 'he' cop a bloody earful from me but I put it all down on the survey and so that wouldn't get misplaced I also emailed the WDHB.

My email below -

To ______ _______

I was looked after by St Mark's Breast Clinic for everything from my mammogram through to my surgery and breast care. I had both my chemo and radio treatments done at Auckland Hospital. All clinics, private and public were wonderful. Then I get to North Shore Hospital this afternoon and my encounter with _______ _________ was worse than receiving my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery for removal of my breast and both my chemo and radio treatments.
My clinic appointment:
Degrading and I was made to feel like an inconvenience.
A waste of time getting time off work.

I was advised that public provided a free service so expect long waits for a mammogram but I wasn't going to get one done today. I told _______ _______that I hadn't had one since October 07 as I was waiting for this appointment. He said that he didn't think there was anything wrong and said I would be okay.
I was lectured and told I couldn't expect my oncologist to run around getting my files transferred because my oncologist was a busy man.

I was told that the private often 'dump' loads into the public.
I was asked how did I expect my oncologist to get my files (in a patronising manner).
I was told that I had to get my files from St Mark's myself and bring them to my next appointment so he knew what had been done on me.
A comment was made that as they were my own medical notes and file I should be allowed and given them.

Appalled and mortified to have been treated and spoken to like an idiot.

What I would like to see improved:
For the medical professions (public to private) to have a system in place for patient files to be tranferred.
Somehow driving to St Mark's requesting they hand over all medical notes and file and then driving to North Shore Hospital to hand them to _______ ________ for him to read through them thoroughly at my appointment seems odd as one assumes doctors read them before seeing patients.
A few months ago I requested to be transferred from St Mark's to public because I was trying to save and fundraise for my Herceptin treatments. After my brief encounter with _______ ________ as soon as I got home I made my own arrangements not to be transferred but to remain under the care of St Mark's after all.

I would rather pay to be treated with respect particularly after the harrowing year I have had as a breast cancer patient.

Perhaps I got ______ ________ on a bad day but he has left a bad impression with me.