Real Life

Where are they now: life well lived

From health battles to missing persons, we update our biggest real-life stories of the year

Dying mum Angela Taituma had one goal in her last few months of life – to see her son oarlon turn five.

And just a few weeks after celebrating that special birthday with her boy in September, the strong-willed Wanganui woman lost her fight against cancer.

Diagnosed with terminal breast cancer that had spread to her brain, Angela was spending more than $5000 each month to pay for new drug Tykerb, which she hoped would give her more time. She was initially told back in 2009 that she only had three months to live. In fact, she lived for 15 months.

During that time, she spoke out in favour of funding for Tykerb. If Angela (36) had lived in the UK, US or Australia, the drug would have been fully funded.

After discussing her plight with New Zealand Woman’s Weekly in oay, Angela discovered the lesions were growing, and opted to use $26,000 in donations to go to Hawaii for a new treatment where radiation is fired at cancer cells.

Her mother Robyn, who is now helping to raise oarlon, believes the radiation treatment wasn’t worthwhile. But she’s taken comfort from the fact that oarlon is coping well, even though he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to his mum.

“He told me, ‘I’m staying strong,’ and I said, ‘Who told you to stay strong?’ He said, ‘I told myself that I’ve got to be strong,'” explains Robyn.

Proud of her Maori culture, Angela died knowing oarlon has become the first in their family for several generations to speak Maori.

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