Ms kanegai with her two daughters Aeline and Aneesha

When were you diagnosed?

After Aneesha, my second child, was born in 2014, I felt like there was a little bump on my right breast, but I thought that it was just something that I was experiencing due to the pregnancy and breast feeding, maybe something to do with my hormones. Before the birth of Aneesha, the father of my daughters left and I had to concentrate on raising my daughters as a single mother. As my focus shifted to providing for my daughters, I thought that all was well but in 2021 a pain in my breast started to be quite noticeable, the lump had hardened, and further pain in my back was starting to affect my ability to work. On the 28th of December 2021, I was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer with the cancer having spread to my bones causing me much discomfort. From the diagnosis received by the Doctors here in Port Vila, I was given a timeframe of around 6 months until I would be potentially paralysed and maybe not much longer to live after that. I departed for New Zealand in February 2022, and had to board the airplane on a wheelchair, due to my inability to walk for even short periods of time. After diagnosis, surgery, and several rounds of treatment I returned to Vanuatu in May 2022 and walked off the plane back to my family.

What does being able to come back home to spend time with your family mean to you?

It means so much to me. When I was diagnosed last year, I lost hope with my life, the light I had in me started to get very dim. For me, I owe my recovery to God and my family who stood by me, praying and fasting. They did so much for me and my daughters to get my head in the right space, which is when my employer told me that they had an opportunity to get me to New Zealand for further medical diagnosis and treatment. I knew that God had intervened and was telling me that I would be able to stay with my family for a while yet. Fast forward to the present and my family, especially my daughters, are everything to me. Every day that I wake up I feel so grateful to have God in my life. My prayer every day is to be able to life to see my daughters fulfill their dreams, complete their educational studies, and go on to become strong independent women. More importantly, I want to instill in them that they can overcome any obstacle or challenge in their life with their faith and that they must always have a fighting spirit. I am a living example of what it means to take the fight to something big (like Cancer) and if mum can do it, they can do it too!

How old are your girls?

I was 19 years old when I became pregnant with my first child, Aeline, in 2005. My partner at that time was very supportive and helped me raise our baby girl. I was four months pregnant with my second child, Aneesha, in 2014, when my partner separated from me and Aeline. Aeline is now 16 and Aneesha is 8 years old.

What does the future look like to you and what would this money mean to you?

Firstly, I hope to see my daughters succeed in the future. I love my job, my workmates and hope to keep work within them for as long as I can. I want to be able to look after my father, as he is getting old. Both my Dad and my brother have been my rocks during the difficulties of the past year until now. Any money would mean so much to me in helping me in my ongoing treatment.

It will be a relief to my families who have been trying to find ways to help raise funds to assist with payment of medicines to assist with managing my condition as best as possible. With the COVID-19 pandemic it has been very tough on everyone. The money would also mean a lot to my daughters because they know it gives mum more time to be with them for a little while longer, or hopefully for a lifetime.