‘My Husband Walked Away, My Father Died’
Cancer survivor recounts ordeal
Breast cancer survivor Salome Nainoca cannot forget when her husband walked out on her in July last year.
“I had virtually given up. I was bedridden, tired and breathless. My husband simply walked out of the family.”
If that was not enough, her father, who had flown from Vanuatu, to take care of her and the children, died from injuries he received in a traffic accident. Ms Nainoca recounted the story during the Pinktober launch at Tanoa Plaza in Suva on Friday. Now a Fiji Cancer Society volunteer, Mrs Nainoca, said it seemed like the whole world was crashing down on her. She had basically lost hope because the man she relied on to provide for her and three young children had gone. “My father, who was in Vanutau, flew here and took care of the family. But tragedy struck again. He died from injuries he received from a traffic accident in Suva,” she said When Ms Nainoca was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, she was 28, and married with two children.
She said: “One day, I noticed changes on my left breast with a lump. I went straight to the hospital to seek medical help. “They (at hospital) scanned and told me the lump was two by two centimetres and it could be cancerous. “It was not easy for me to hear the news as I thought of my very young family. “I was advised I needed a mastectomy,” Ms Nainoca said. Mastectomy is a surgery to remove all breast tissue from a breast as a way to treat or prevent breast cancer.
She said she had her left breast removed when she underwent the mastectomy surgery; to prevent the cancer from spreading. “I was advised that I needed four cycles of chemotherapy. “I took up the chemotherapy procedures but unfortunately I had only completed two cycles as my body was giving up; I couldn’t cope up. “I am thankful I had my family by my side and because of that, I regained better health,” Ms Nainoca said. She was expecting a child in 2014 but she was in a dilemma. The doctors had advised her she would have to choose between her child and herself. “I was seven months pregnant when I was advised by the doctor to choose between my unborn child and myself. “The doctors told me that they will have to terminate my pregnancy as my cancer could reoccur.
“It was really hard for me to decide because my unborn child was already moving and fully formed. “I had decided right away to save my unborn child. And whatever happens after that; I will cope with it as it is my decision.
“I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl in March 2015. When she was three months old, I started to feel sick. “My cancer had reoccurred and spread to my right breast. I had relatives who gave me herbal remedies. “Unfortunately, each day my health got worse and I felt sicker. “I came to a stage where my body completely gave up as I was bedridden and couldn’t breast feed my baby girl. “It added pressure to me and unfortunately my husband walked out from the family.
“I thank the Lord for the life of my children and for his continuous blessing upon us during the hard times,” Ms Nainoca said. She said her children had been her biggest support throughout her journey battling for breast cancer. “They had told me, ‘mum, this is reality and we have to face it. We have to keep strong and hold onto each other.’ “They stood by me and encouraged me every day. My eldest daughter would be there to take care of my new born. “My children had taken me to the hospital and I was confirmed that my cancer had spread. “It was not an easy journey to go through the same process again and have my right breast removed.
“I was advised again for four cycles of chemotherapy. And I completed my four cycles of chemotherapy. “After my chemotherapy, I regained health; I stood up and started to walk around. Unfortunately the very next day, my father passed away. “He was involved in an accident at Ratu Dovi Road and passed away a day after I completed my chemotheraphy. “I thank the Fiji Cancer Society for being there for me in terms of providing counselling, transportation and financial support for me and my children,” Ms Nainoca said. She encouraged other breast cancer fighters to keep fighting and never lose hope. Edited by Paula Tuvuki