Kylie O’Keeffe knew something was not right when she experienced heavy bleeding. The 46-year-old from Christchurch, who identifies as New Zealand Māori, was diagnosed with stage four endometrial cancer. It was soon found she had cancer that had spread beyond her uterus.
Kylie says the news had a huge impact on her whānau. She faced a major operation and recovery, then six weeks of targeted radiation treatment to her pelvis.
Throughout her treatment, Kylie’s husband picked her up from work each day, took her to the hospital and then picked her up afterwards. Kylie says he had to take on the job of ‘caregiver, housekeeper and taxi driver’ during her treatment and recovery.
“Having to face my mortality has been a journey which I am still navigating – and my whānau is as well. We are taking things one treatment at a time and going in with a positive outlook,” says Kylie.
Kylie first found out about the Cancer Society through the specialists at the hospital. She notes that the support she has received from the Cancer Society has been valuable to her, particularly having somewhere to turn to when she had questions.
“I have used the counselling services which helped me to process what is going on. I have also found the online information and the hard copy booklets so helpful, and the meditation videos helped me to sleep when I was finding everything overwhelming,” she says.
Kylie is holding a gathering with friends and family to raise money for the Cancer Society. She aims to raise at least $400 and to celebrate and reflect on her journey so far.
“The Cancer Society does an amazing job at supporting people when they really need it. I want to raise money to help keep these essential and lifesaving facilities running,” she says.
Kylie has some final words of wisdom for others affected by a cancer diagnosis: “Stay strong and take things one at a time in slow, steady steps. Celebrate the good things and spend time with the people you love. You are not alone!”
Daffodil Day, Friday, August 26, symbolises hope for all New Zealanders impacted by cancer.
Every day 71 New Zealanders are diagnosed with cancer. For over 30 years New Zealanders have supported the work of the Cancer Society on Daffodil Day and we need your help again this year.