MEDIA RELEASES

Jim Carney Cancer Treatment Centre patient perspective: Marlene Tuhiwai

Marlene Tuhiwai played a key role in the dawn ceremony to open the Jim Carney Cancer Treatment Centre a year ago. The 58-year-old Titoki woman unveiled the name plate, while her granddaughter Rymona was the puhi – the first to step through the door of the new centre.

Marlene is also a patient receiving regular weekly chemotherapy treatment at the centre. More than five years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer which has since spread to her lungs and bones.

She has undergone a series of chemotherapy treatments over the years, although only the latest has caused her to lose her hair.

“I’m very lucky to be at more than five years and just losing my hair now after all that treatment,” she says. “You’ve got to look at life positively. If you start dwelling on it, it will pull you down.

“Everyone’s been so beautiful all the way through. The nurses and doctors become your second family, and you meet so many people going through the same thing.”

Having also experienced the previous cancer treatment facilities, she is very impressed by the new centre. “The previous one was just a little room and they would sit you right next to one another. It was such a poky little space – you didn’t have space like this.

“It must have been hard for the nurses when they were trying to talk to you and be discreet and your neighbour would be right next to you.

“So when we came to open this building, my eyes lit up.

“It was a very beautiful dawn ceremony. I spoke as a patient, thanking the nurses and the specialists for what they do for us and how beautiful they are and that they deserve to have a place like this to work in.

“I think you have to have a very special heart to be a doctor or a nurse in this line of work.”

Marlene plays a big part in the lives of her mokopuna – she has 23 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in Auckland and Northland.

She also travels with her husband George in his work on behalf of his hapu, which includes relocating elvers (young eels) to new awa (creeks) and educating school children about the challenges facing eels.

Her 39-year-old daughter in Auckland has had a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer. “She looks at life positively too. She says I’m her role model.”

 



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