Saturday, November 17, 2007


HER story is one of pain and agony but she has risen above it to be someone cancer patients can rely on as they battle the disease.

She lost her husband to cancer seven years ago and it made her stronger in taking the gospel of cancer to all levels of society and making people aware of the killer disease.

Today, Taufa Rasiga is one of the few people in Fiji who have dedicated their lives to become advocates for the disease. She knows too well the pain and struggle families go through when a family member is diagnosed with the disease.

Taufa was on the streets of Suva yesterday handing out pamphlets about all types of cancer. She is one of the members of the Fiji Cancer Society which is trying to make families understand and help them go through the darkest hours of family members with cancer.

Taufa is from Vanuavatu Island in the Lau Group, and at 45, she is one of the last person cancer patients in Suva and the west share their last moments with.

"My work with the Fiji Cancer Society is a care giver for those who are suffering from cancer and in the last stage of their lives," Taufa said. "It is not a job that everyone would like to do and it takes someone who has gone through the pain and difficulties of having a loved one killed by the disease to understand.

"For me, the experience was really hard. It was hard to bear seeing my husband going through the pain before he passed away."

Taufa's work involves being with the family and caring for cancer patients and helping both patients and their family members cope with the situation. "It is heartache but I have to be strong and let the families, especially the patients, know there is someone beside them in the final stage of their life."

Taufa said she came to learn about the society when her husband was diagnosed with cancer.
"I came to understand what their functions and roles are and after his death I volunteered to be part of the group and continue the good work of caring for cancer patients in the country," she said.

"Since I joined the society, I have attended numerous workshops that have helped me on how I can cope and at the same time provide valuable service to patients as well as families. "I struggled trying to come to terms when my husband was told he had the disease.

"I had to offer him all the love and care I could give because I know eventually he would have to succumb to the disease. "I was with him all throughout the different stages until his final breath.

"From the experience I was able to gain strength and confidence that I could help families trying to cope with the disease." Taufa said this year alone she served four patients until their death. "For some patients living in their own homes with the disease was not easy," she said.

"This is where I come in and talk to families as well as patients on the importance of giving all the love and care that a patient needs until he or she passes on. "Cancer is a dreadful disease. It drains a lot out from the families and the pain is just too hard to bear.

"However, families must always ensure they show the patients they are always there for them.
"We have to make sure our family members with the disease do know that we care for them even in the last stage of their lives.

"Through their darkest hour of pain, one can only sit beside them and cry but being beside them alone does make a difference in that they know we are there for them." Taufa said caring for family members with cancer should be seen as a duty and not a burden.

She said while nothing much could be done to those in the last stage of the disease, "the best thing to do is give as much love as we can while they are still with us". Taufa said the best way to avoid going through the pain of having the killer disease was to have regular checks and living a healthy lifestyle.

She advised the public to make use of the Fiji Cancer Society to learn more about the disease.
For now, Taufa will continue to care for patients as well as their families.

Adapted from the November 17th, 2007