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I share my experience in memory of my mum, and all the loved ones who are no longer with us.

Hi my name is Taea and I have been a part of The Acorn Project pretty much from the beginning, so around five years now. I joined Acorn after my Mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. She got me into it and came with me to all the activities she could which were family based. We both grew, and I learned to understand more about cancer, and what was happening in my family.

In 2016 mum went into remission. We were so happy and thought it was all over but in 2019, my mum got diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and this time it was terminal.

We tried everything, chemo again, radiation, every hippie medicine under the sun, saunas, and even a home hyperbaric oxygen chamber. We did everything right, but nothing worked. The cancer moved up her spine to her brain.

My mum lost her battle with cancer on April 14th, 2021 when I was 13 years old. This was a devastating time for my family and some of the hardest days of my life. My Mum was the glue that held my family together.

But The Acorn Project was always there for me.

Only a few weeks after my mum passed I went on a therapeutic camp with them. This was such an important part of my grieving journey, as it helped me process what had happened, and connect with others who had been through the same thing I had. It really made me feel seen and heard, and less alone. I grew a lot on that camp, and I took away less baggage, and less hurt than I came with.

My dad was diagnosed with cancer this year. This was a terrifying time for our family, with what had happened with Mum I was so scared. We all were. But we were again supported and guided by The Acorn Project.

I can confidently say that The Acorn Project saved my life. When I was in the darkest parts of my journey, and I needed help the most, The Acorn Project, Kerrie, the staff, volunteers, and members, were always there for me. They all helped me through. For that, I will always be grateful.

I am also so thankful to all of the amazing people, our sponsors, and the generous people who donate to us, none of this would ever have been possible. So many people would have never gotten access to this amazing and life-changing organisation.

I share my experience in memory of my mum, and all the loved ones who are no longer with us.

How do you tell two beautiful daughters that you have breast cancer.  I will never forget that day.  It was one of the hardest days of my life.

This was the beginning of a journey that not only affected me, it effected my whole family.  It was very important to me that I was strong so that I could show my girls that whatever life brings you, you can deal with it and there is help out there.

My girls were struggling and I made it my mission to find some support for them.  I rang a couple of places and left messages for them to call me back.  Thankfully an amazing lady called Kerrie returned my call and made a time to come and see me at home as I was having chemo and it was hitting me pretty hard.  Kerrie arrived at my house with lovely hot chocolate drinks and when I opened the door I just burst into tears.  Kerrie had called in on one of my bad days but she stayed and gave me strength and support.  What Kerrie was offering for my girls was exactly what I was looking for.

Somewhere for the girls to go which was away from my cancer and mix with other peers that understood what they were going through and that they didn't feel like they were been judged or pitied .

The girls gained the support they needed and made new friends.  They enjoyed the many opportunities that Kerrie offered them from doing a barista course to getting together with everyone and going ten pin bowling.  My eldest daughter became part of the leadership programme.  Kerrie also offered one on one support with the girls where she would pick them up (one at a time) and take them out to catch up with them to see how they were doing and giving them the opportunity to talk to someone outside the family.  When I was down in Palmerston North having my radiotherapy my Mum was looking after the girls but unfortunately they all got really sick but Kerrie was on hand to knock on the door with a lovely care package for them all.  It was such a relief for me that the girls had this support available and I could concentrate on fighting my battle.

Since joining The Acorn Project Hawke’s Bay the girls have enjoyed catching up with the other members and been able to get that continued support.  They have had the opportunity of learning to cook some yummy dishes with Glenda and Helen from The Cook and Grow Project.  We had a lovely evening making jewellery together as a Mother's Day event for members and mums with Sharon from Can Inspire Hawke’s Bay.

The Acorn Project Hawke’s Bay not only provides support for my girls, it provides support for my whole family.  Especially when my Mum's breast cancer returned Kerrie was there checking up on how I was doing as well as how the girls were doing.  It is so great that if things aren't going well we can contact Kerrie.  The girls have established a great relationship with Kerrie and value Kerrie's opinion and advice.

It is so important that these young people have that one on one support and face to face time and they build a relationship with someone who is local that is there if they need them   The group get together’s are a chance for them to just chill out and be themselves whilst knowing that they are not alone and there are other people that understand what they are going through.  Also there is someone they know who they can contact if things are tough or they just need to talk, whether this be Kerrie or another Acorn Project Hawke’s Bay member.

The Acorn Project Hawke’s Bay provides a wraparound support service for 12-24 year olds dealing with cancer in their lives, whether it be themselves, their sibling or a parent/caregiver, and their families.  We have had some lovely activities where parents and caregivers get together and have a chance to share their experiences and offer support to each other.  A highlight for me was when members and families were offered the opportunity from Hawke’s Bay Harley MC with an amazing Harley ride activity.  We had a mystery ride to Waimarama where we stopped for a bbq lunch and fun in the sun before heading back to The Acorn Project Hawke’s Bay office.

This will be the third Mitre 10 Mega Walk that we have been involved with.  It still blows me away how the community get behind this event.  The atmosphere at the finishing line is incredible as people achieve completion of the Mitre 10 Mega Walk from the first person across the finish line to the last person crossing the finish line.

My girls lost a bit of their teen years as they had to step up during my treatment and help out around the house so it is great to see them with the other Acorn Project Hawke’s Bay members just been kids laughing, joking and enjoying being with other kids that understand where they are at.  We are so blessed to have Kerrie in our lives and I sometimes wonder what our life would be like now if we had not met this amazing lady.  I would like to thank Kerrie for everything she does for my family and the other Acorn Project Hawke’s Bay members and their families she is one special lady.

Sarndra ~ mum diagnosed with cancer




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