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Support people affected by cancer in Gisborne, Hawkes Bay, Manawatu, Whanganui, and Taranaki

My name is Zains, I’m from Iraq and I have lived in Palmerston North for the last 12 years with my family.

My husband and I separated shortly after I was diagnosed with cancer six years ago.  I have been looking after our three children ever since.  I have two boys aged six and eight and a girl aged eleven.

Before I was diagnosed I thought it was just a muscle spasm. I went for a brain scan and they found out I had a brain tumour.  It was a lot to take.  I was speechless as I was going to go to work afterwards, and I did.  I wanted to just forget about it, focus on the kids and have a good day.   I only heard “it’s 10 O’clock go to this place.” 

During the year it got very stressful.  While I was sick with the tumour, I wasn’t meant to drive for a whole year.  It was very difficult with kids, not driving.  They don’t understand having to walk places because I couldn’t drive.  It was like a prison. The kids wanted to go in the car so often and in most cases it was the only way to get around.

I used to walk from our place to the hospital and back again.  I was literally sweating with the walking and needed fresh t-shirts.  My kids know about the diagnosis, I don’t know if they understand what I said when I told them.  I think sometimes they did and sometimes they didn’t. After my treatment, I had a meeting with my Neuro surgery doctor and he said that I had five to seven years to live. 

At first the hospital they referred me to a psychologist in Massey, she specialised in mental health support, but this support was coming to an end. I still needed to talk with someone, as it’s still happening.  It’s been good to have the support, but I needed more support.   My doctor at the hospital then gave me the referral to get in touch with the Cancer Society supportive care

At first, I was worried I wouldn’t get the support that I needed because I was going through chemo.  I met with Graham and he said “come in” and we started talking.  The first thing he said to me was “you’re my whanau, we’re your whanau.” It really hit home. We talked about stuff and I told him about what had been going on with me and how my husband treated me and the kids before we separated.  He reassured me and told me that it’s not my fault. Now it just feels like home.  Graham really listens to me and I still see him for support.  He is just so honest and this is the only place I feel like I belong.  If I knew someone going through cancer, I would recommend they come to get support from the Cancer Society.  

I would advise people to go to the Cancer Society they are just really helpful.  They make you feel at home and welcome.  I am keen to get involved as a volunteer in some way soon.

Thank you for taking the time out to read my story. 


Every day, 71 New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer. Our goal is to reduce the incidence and impact of cancer in our community and for people just like Zains.

Your generous donations make this possible.



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