SALT & LIGHT IN THE SHADOW OF CANCER
By Hanalei Temese
Cancer. One of the heaviest words known to mankind.
New Zealand born Fijian and solo mother of 7, Ruve Peterson, wasn’t ready to hear it.
Having already been through the loss of a father and not long after, twin grandsons; Ruve wasn’t prepared for more bad news.
On September 29th, Ruve’s only daughter, Kuila Tuivoavoa, was diagnosed with T Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia; a type of blood cancer that grows progressively quicker than most.
The nineteen year old was rushed to Waitakere Hospital with severe chest pain the Monday after she had finished 4 weeks of an acting production with PIPA (Pacific Institute of Performing Art’s). “They said it was just a muscular thing, but if I hadn’t of told them about the little bits of bruising I found scattered on my body, I wouldn’t of had to do any blood tests, so that was lucky.” Kuila said.
After several tests and a CT scan over her chest, doctors found a 7-millimeter tumor situated only inches away from her lung. Initially, the swab from the tumor resulted in Lymphoma, a more common type of blood cancer. However, with a series of more tests, including a transfer to North Shore Hospital, Kuila was officially diagnosed with T Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.
Apart from her feeling bad for the doctors that had to break the horrible news, Kuila was initially numb about the diagnosis.
“For me, I’m just really strong in knowing that things happen for a reason and the only real way of getting through it, is by staying positive.”
Ruve too, had to find her strength.
“I guess it’s hard to process because when anyone has cancer, you just think of death straight away. It’ll always be hard when it’s your child but it’s especially hard for me with her being my only girl.”
Though the family has been through a lot, Kuila’s situation has brought them closer in more ways than one. Her faith in God has helped them persevere, along with the many prayers that they have received from the Fijian and Methodist communities.
Currently in her second year with PIPA studying a Bachelor of Performing Arts, the institute have also made sure to help her during this time.
Ruve expresses her appreciation.
“It makes us feel really good that that kind of orginisation, who probably have their own things going on, still have the time to support and share their love the way they have.”
As part of their contribution, PIPA have created a give a little page to help raise funds for Kuila’s medical expenses and recovery.
She is currently undergoing her first 4 weeks of intensive treatment as well as receiving an alternative intravenous shot of Vitamin C (a shot that, unlike chemo therapy, is not subsidised). Towards the end of this, they will run another biopsy to re-evaluate the next steps of her treatment.
Let’s support Kuila’s fight by giving generously here.
Or, for more information on how you can help during breast cancer awareness month, click our links below.