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?!!

01 December 2008

Herceptin, my gold

Morning of Herceptin....
A relaxing and pampered start to my day, breakfast in bed, cards of good wishes signed off with lots of love and heartfelt hugs from my loved ones before they head off to school and work on the morning of my first Herceptin treatment....huh...not even.
More like up at sparrows fart to squeeze 8 hours of work into 4 from home after a couple of hours of sleep, in between sorting out the demands of selfish teens before shoving them out the door to face their world, fixing my own brekkie and trying to steer my head into the right space and out of the anxiety, stress and sad space before I drive myself to Mercy Hospital because my beloved couldn't be spared from work not to mention he had forgotten!
Anyway, truth be really known as great as it would have been to have had my beloved remember and fuss over me I know that he would have stepped out of his comfort zone so why worry about his feelings as well as my own to complicate my already fragile raw emotions that I have leading up to any blood test or hospital appointment or on this particular morning my first Herceptin treatment?

Reflection of Herceptin...
After several hours and 6 miserable attempts of finding a good vein, finally $8722.60 worth of gold (Herceptin) was administered. While I have no complaints about the public sector during chemotherapy there is a distinct feeling of absolute attention in the private sector.
On the 3rd attempt at placing the canular in my vein it eventually slipped out causing an air bubble to form at the back of hand which hurt like mad. The Herceptin had nowhere to go.
Anywho my oncologist nurse was immediately at my side to sort it out before my hand exploded - or at least felt like it!

Tips after Herceptin...
For women about to begin Herceptin and wonder about the side effects here is my lot to compare with:
- blood noses,
- diahorea,
- headaches,
- sore throat,
- achy lower joints,
- chest pangs,
- strange outbreaks of high fevers,
- rashes on my body and I still get really tired.
So sisters, continue to take it one day at a time.

Reflection after Herceptin...
One adult child, three teens and a husband of 20 years remind me all the time that I am mother and wife regardless of my health and in many ways it is a blessing in disguise otherwise it would only be about me, wouldn't that be boring and naturally can't be entirely healthy!

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