Cancer Information Helpline Call 0800 226 237 | Email an Information nurse | Fundraising & Donor Care Helpline Call 0800 467 345

Five stories of cancer in New Zealand

Each day, 63 New Zealanders hear the words "you have cancer". It's a challenging statistic, but behind every statistic is a story - of hope, resilience, love and loss.

Behind each story is a community of support. Following a diagnosis, the Cancer Society is there to provide information, practical support and care for people and whānau facing cancer. This year the Cancer Society is celebrating the 30th anniversary of Daffodil Day, its annual fundraising campaign, and asked New Zealanders who have been impacted by cancer to share their story.

Cancer doesn't care if you're a potential All Black, as Aaron Cruden discovered when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 19.

"I was young, fit and I thought I was bullet proof. But it's not until you are faced with true adversity that you figure out how strong you truly are and what is actually important in life."

As well as learning about himself, Cruden's cancer journey taught him about the generosity of his community. "New Zealanders are always willing to help out those who are struggling and that is what I love about this country."

The Young family felt completely helpless when their "pocket rocket" of a mother was diagnosed with cancer and died within three months.

"The huge saviour for me during that tough time was the Cancer Society. It literally wrapped its arms around my Mum and helped us cope through those last few months," says Andrew Young, Cancer Society Auckland/Northland CEO. 

Now aged 25, Vienna Sirvid has been volunteering for the Cancer Society since she was five. Her mum was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkins Lymphoma and was successfully treated but developed metastatic breast cancer and passed away when Vienna was 22.

"The Cancer Society were a huge support in really practical ways. I've been giving back by volunteering for over 20 years." 

When Clare Hewitt's husband Tuta'i was diagnosed with prostate cancer 11 years ago, the entire family started a journey with the Cancer Society.

"We've used the library and all the information, their carpark, counselling support, and taken part in fundraising for Relay For Life and Daffodil Day," she says. "Our children continue to support the Cancer Society on our behalf because of their father's advanced cancer. But this is all in the name of cancer awareness and cancer prevention – especially for our Pacific and Māori communities."

When a scan revealed Stephanie Olivier had stage 3 cervical cancer, it was as though the world stopped for a moment.

"I could hear the doctor talking, but I wasn't listening. I was thinking, 'But I have two teenagers to raise'," she says.

"We live in Kerikeri but my treatment was in Auckland. I had to brave chemo and radiation basically alone as my husband had to work and the kids had school. I stayed at the Cancer Society's Domain Lodge for seven weeks. When I walked in I couldn't believe my luck - it didn't feel like a hospital or have that hospital smell. It was so homely."

Donations can be made at or at any ANZ branch during August.

Full article: