Please tell us about yourself. What has happened in your life and how did you get here?
I was lucky enough to grow up in the beautiful island paradise of Fiji. I now live in Auckland, and although it’s a bit on the cooler side (temperature wise), I am definitely still a sand and sun seeker :) - always happiest when soaking up long days seaside with a guitar in hand, surrounded by loved ones.
Similar to many around the world, 2020 was a very strange year for me. Aside from the global pandemic, my world came crashing down in a different way, when I was diagnosed with Stage 3B Bowel Cancer.
Having had Ulcerative Colitis (a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease) for most of my life (diagnosed when I was eight), I became quite comfy talking about poop - and became super passionate about shining a light on the reality of life with autoimmune disease. I am committed to increasing awareness, helping others and sharing my unique perspective on approaching health holistically with a positive mindset.
Grateful to still be here is a massive understatement & I don’t take one second for granted.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you find out that you were diagnosed with bowel cancer? How do you get yourself out of the mindset afterward?
I was absolutely devastated, and although death is inevitable, it’s a really strange thing to be confronted with. That being said though, I feel like I was given a strange super power as my perspective shifted massively. And although yeah, I’ve definitely been a positive person throughout life, I truly grasp how short life is & strive to continue living in the best way I know how.
Tell us more about the treatment, any struggles, and how you overcome them.
Since being diagnosed I have had three major abdominal surgeries, six months of chemotherapy and underwent IVF treatment in hope to freeze some eggs.
Surgically removing my cancer means that I no longer have a colon - and I now have a different surgical made organ called a J-Pouch, so my digestive system and anatomy has changed in a massive way. I am still very much navigating what this means for my life, what I’m able to eat & do etc.
What are your daily goals, and how do you balance them with life?
I wake up each day and know that I have the power to choose happiness. This definitely isn’t easy & I feel like sometimes people misunderstand my positive outlook. Some days I am definitely just in bed, unmotivated, super overwhelmed.. But yeah, for the most part, I actively choose & put in effort in doing things that fill my cup. For example practicing gratitude, meditation, watching reality TV, walks to the beach, writing music.. they just make me feel better & yeah, it’s important for me to make time for things that I really enjoy and for the people that I love.
Do you have favorite places/things to do when things get a ‘bit too much’?
The beach will always be a place of solace, I can just go there for everything. I also feel that writing is a really good outlet - whether that’s journaling, lyrics, poems.. It’s a cool creative way for me to get my thoughts out and helps me not to bottle things up.
Can you tell us a bit more about when you first received our swimsuit? And what does it mean to you to wear it, after all, you have been through?
It was after my first major surgery where they removed my colon and I had an ostomy pouch. It was great to put on swimwear that was comfy, pretty & made me feel really empowered. It was important to me to have togs that not only I could swim in, but that were also practical and made me feel confident.
Any words of encouragement to other women who are in the same situation?
Everybody is so different, so I feel it’s important to really listen to yourself as a lot of people have preconceived ideas or narratives that they almost push onto people in a way. So I think it’s important to acknowledge that all of your feelings are valid - this is your life & you should always do what is healthy and right for you.