Shelley

2020 recipient of funding

My name is Shelley Cross, I have been married to Shawn for 22 years, and we have a 19 year old daughter, Brooklyn, who is a full time student at Auckland University. I live in Hamilton (my hometown), with Shawn and my gorgeous rescue dog Leah!

In February 2016 I was feeling a bit tired but thought nothing of it, until I discovered I had aggressive, Stage 3 cancer that had already metastasized to my lymph nodes. I knew that my time was going to be limited, and that it was now about buying more time to spend with my family, as at the end of the day, that is all that really matters. I immediately started on 18 rounds of intense chemotherapy followed by 20 rounds of radiation. It was an extremely aggressive cancer and was treated aggressively, which was fine by me, I would have done anything, and put up with anything for a positive outcome.

Unfortunately, by October 2019 the cancer had returned, and this time was in my lungs, my liver, clavicles, my sternum, and the bones in my ribs, and my spine. Shawn had to give up work and became a full-time carer for me.

I started chemotherapy again but unfortunately the side effects were so severe I ended up spending two weeks in Waikato Hospital over Christmas.  The oncologists advised no more chemo, as it was making me so sick and provided no quality of life for me, so in April this year I started Ibrance (a pill), which luckily had just become funded. But after a few weeks on Ibrance, a scan showed a new tumour on my lung, so this was also not working.

I then had a test to find out which genomic alterations were driving my cancer. This allows treatment to be targeted more accurately. The result was that the best possible option to extend my life was a drug called Everolimus.

Unfortunately, Everolimus is not funded in New Zealand and costs $7,800 per month. We have been living off our savings and our super for some time, and of course this is not sustainable, which really adds to the stresses of cancer.

Every moment I have with my husband and daughter is precious, and so receiving any type of assistance is so very much appreciated, as it takes the financial pressure off and allows us to “make more memories” with the time we all have left together.

Nicki

2020 recipient of funding

My name is Nicki and I am 47 years old.  I was born in Cambridge and have lived here for most of my life.  I’m married to Alan, an Englishman and we have two sons – Jason and Alex, both 28.  We have four grandchildren – Ella, Kierly, Sophia and wee Jaxson.

In February 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and began 14 rounds of chemotherapy with minimal response.  I underwent multiple diagnostic procedures – MRIs, CT and biopsies which indicated I had abnormalities elsewhere – lung, bone, ovaries.  Following chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, another bombshell arrived in late November 2019 – they had found tumours in my liver.

I began a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy in early December 2019. The immunotherapy – TECENTRIQ is not funded and costs $6,350.00 every three weeks.  So far I have had eleven treatments and this will continue indefinitely while I continue to respond well to it.

We have had to make some difficult financial decisions and I worry constantly about the future and what this financial toll means for both my husband and our family.  But here I am 12 months later and whilst I still have cancer the treatment seems to have been effective at halting its progression. Long may it continue! The treatment side effects are manageable and I am still working and loving my life. It’s difficult to put a price on that except to say that for my husband and me it is invaluable. To have people like Errol and Alice come forward and say “we can help” is genuinely life changing for me and I can’t begin to say how grateful I am for the offer of financial assistance.  The decision on whether or not to seek lifesaving / extending treatment should not be a financial one, but at the moment for people like me it is. Thank you so much from my family and I.

Janette

2019 recipient of funding

Janette is a school teacher, living in Hamilton with her husband and daughter (22) while her son (23) is at university in Auckland. She was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer in 2018 and has undergone a typically wide reaching series of treatments in an effort to slow the spread of the disease.

In 2019 it became apparent that the traditional and funded treatment options had been exhausted and the recommendation was to try an unfunded drug known as Palbociclib (Ibrance) at a cost of approximately $6,000 per month. We were fortunate to be in a position to help Janette and her family with the funding of this treatment and supported her from may 2019 – February 2020 when the drug became funded in New Zealand. Janette continues to do well under this treatment and is loving and living life to the fullest.

Tristyn

2018 recipient of funding

It’s hard to write a piece of text where words cannot possibly describe the gratitude I feel. I hope when you read this you will understand the depth of gratitude I feel to those that supported me in 2018.

Without a doubt, the Livingstone Charity Golf Day saved my life by helping to fund Metastatic Breast Cancer drugs that are not funded by the New Zealand health system.

The diagnosis I was given 18 months ago held little chance of survival past a two year period. Other medications had not worked to stop the spread of disease and I was down to my last option for survival.

Living with a death sentence is hard for many to imagine, there was little hope of keeping the disease at bay and no hope of a cure. Thankfully I was presented with one last option – unfunded drugs Palbociclib and Fulvestrant at a cost of approximately $7200.00 per month. If they worked I would need them for the rest of my life and hopefully one day they would be approved for government funding.

My friends, family and our community have fought hard to save my life by helping fund these drugs. Within two weeks we had our first three treatments funded and from there the Livingstone Golf Charity took care of the next 4 months of treatment and magically it continues to work.

I now have the joy of seeing my daughters graduate from school, my grandson being born and now taking his first steps, while I also continue my work at the Waikato District Health Board – Addictions Service.

The Livingstone Golf Charity Day has quite literally helped saved my life and to those of you that have supported it, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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