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Melissa

Leanne from the Cancer Society organised my volunteer Rayna, who—even with covid restrictions—managed to be loving support. I had food dropped off and uplifting text messages, and she's always there if I need her. Rayna understands my son Flynn, and he adores her. She will be forever in my life now.

Melissa
Melissa out and about

No one should face cancer alone.

Melissa Harvey started to feel exhausted, stressed and disconnected in her body, mind, and spirit in January 2021. Melissa was diagnosed with Triple Positive Stage 2 breast cancer. She is sharing her cancer journey and the support she received from the Cancer Society to help others in a similar situation. 

“Every day, 71 New Zealanders will find out they have cancer. No one should face cancer alone. With the demand for the Cancer Society’s services increasing, support is needed more than ever. Daffodil Day symbolises hope and inspires communities to come together to support people living with cancer”, says Dr Rachael Hart, chief executive of the Cancer Society, Otago, and Southland Division.

Melissa’s Diagnosis

“I found a lump after brushing away a scarf irritating my upper chest. I knew in my heart straight away. Two days after, I experienced an icy/hot flowing feeling around it.

I went to the hospital alone as I needed to be within my thoughts. My doctor told me it was likely cancer. Before I drove home in the dark, I couldn't yet bring myself to talk, so I sent a text to my family and friends. I cried all the way home.

Telling my 8-year-old son Flynn was the hardest thing I have ever done. We held each other and cried together but made a pact to be positive and get through this.

Treatment

I felt like I was shutting down within myself, and it took a while to work through self-judgement and forgiveness. I had sunk into anger and sadness, where I cried a lot and yelled at the universe! Sadly, my spiritual practice, meditations and alternative wellness practices all disappeared.

I agreed quickly to have a double mastectomy. My anxiety was so intense that I underwent surgery with parts of my body covered in stress hives, and I remember hyperventilating into my anaesthetic.

Surgery was a lighter journey compared to chemotherapy which sunk me into darkness. Some days I could barely stand yet pushed through for Flynn. It was a very lonely journey for me. I had days where I cried to my sister and Leanne from The Cancer Society that I couldn’t do it anymore. I lost who I was in all essence of being.

Relying on Cancer Society for Supportive Care

Leanne, from the Cancer Society has been my rock of guidance and understanding, and I am so fortunate that I reached out. She helped me understand the medical process and is a wonderfully empathetic listener. After struggling for months to find support for my son, Leanne set up counselling for him that same day.

Leanne coordinated my 'Earth Angel' Cancer Society volunteer Rayna, who—even with COVID-19 restrictions—managed to be loving support. I had food dropped off and uplifting text messages, and she is always there if I need her. Rayna understands Flynn, and he adores her. She will be forever in my life now.

Staying at Daffodil House

I stayed at Daffodil House during treatment. You can meet others and share your story yet be alone if needed in your large suite. I loved sitting in the peaceful garden chatting to others; such supportive love and joy surround this house! I would have stayed in a lonely motel had Daffodil House not been available.

Prognosis

I still have immunology via IV every three weeks until October and will be on some powerful drugs orally and through an abdominal injection for the next 5 to 10 years.

I wrote my story to show the darkness and light throughout my journey and to show people that the Cancer Society makes a real difference.”

 

Daffodil Day symbolises hope for Melissa and all New Zealanders impacted by cancer.

Cancer doesn't stop; thanks to you, we won't either. More New Zealanders will get cancer this year than ever before. No one should face cancer alone.

Donations can be made at daffodilday.org.nz – please give generously this year.

Melissa in Hospital
Melissa out and about
Melissa 2