Savitri Bailey is giving back to St John for helping save her life by taking part in the 2016 ASB Auckland Marathon. Back in February 2012, Savitri had just enjoyed her brother in law’s wedding the day before when she collapsed on her bathroom floor. Her husband Braden rang 111 for help while Savitri’s five year old step daughter Keira quickly grabbed Braden the phone and a blanket. The emergency call handler instructed Braden to do CPR on the then 29 year old, mother of three until St John arrived at their One Tree Point home. Once the St John crew arrived, the two officers gave Savitri two shocks from the defibrillator and transported her to Whangarei Hospital.

“St John were bloody, absolutely fabulous. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here, I’m forever grateful,” Savitri says.

Her recovery has been slow but with a fitted mini defibrillator in her heart and heart medication she is close to 100% once again. The ASB Auckland Marathon will be Savitri’s first ever marathon event  but something she has always wanted to do.

“It really affected me that I can’t run anymore but something clicked in my brain and I said bugger it… if I can’t run it I’ll walk the event and raise money for St John at the same time,” Savitri added. 

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A leukaemia diagnosis was the last thing Natasha and Mathew MacInnes expected when they took their daughter Sienna to the doctor.  Sienna, who was then 2-years-old, had been sick with chest infections leading up to the diagnosis in October last year. "She was a little bit tired and she had some rash spots and a few bruises," Natasha said. Then her lymph nodes became enlarged in her neck, armpit and groin. "I thought it must be a viral response," Natasha said. "Deep down I thought something wasn't right but then I didn't expect leukaemia, not at all." 

Doctors suspected leukaemia following a blood test and scan and the couple had to rush Sienna to Starship Children's Hospital in Auckland at 5pm on a Friday afternoon. "The first 48 hours was probably the worst because there's a few different types of leukaemia and you don't know for the first few hours what type," Mathew said. Sienna was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, which is diagnosed in 40 New Zealanders each year and has a 95 per cent cure rate. The Waikato family, which included 3-month-old baby sister Ava, stayed in Ronald McDonald House near Starship Hospital while Sienna received treatment. 

Sienna was anaemic but didn't seem that sick, Natasha said. However, the chemotherapy treatment made her very unwell. After two weeks of treatment, Sienna was in remission, but will have a daily oral dosage and monthly intravenous treatments of chemotherapy until 2018. Sienna handled her treatments well, Natasha said. "She's pretty brave. We've started going to play therapy because I noticed she was getting quite anxious." Play therapy is for children with serious illnesses who have regular hospital treatments. "She's pretty good when she goes to hospital as we have strategies to help her deal with being in a hospital environment which we learnt through play therapy." Sienna has a portacath under her skin for chemotherapy treatment, so she doesn't need to have needles put into her arm all the time. "It's much easier to administer drugs or for taking blood etc, and she bounces back quite easily. "

I think kids are quite resilient particularly young ones. Initially she didn't know what was going on but now as she's older she understands she needs to see doctors regularly." Now 3-years-old, Sienna will soon start kindergarten, a milestone that is a big deal for a child with leukaemia.  "Every time Sienna gets a temperature, she goes to hospital. "This is an unjust disease for anyone but in particular children as their lives are just beginning." 

Mathew said he wanted to give back to The Starship Foundation, so decided to run the ASB Auckland Marathon in October, one of Starship's biggest fundraisers. "You feel quite helpless. When Sienna first went in [to Starship], there's not a lot you can do. This is one way of helping." Mathew ran his first half marathon recently during the Trail Trilogy from Waihi to Paeroa and plans to run the Paeroa to Thames leg in September. Finding time to train for the marathon has been difficult for the Waitakaruru dairy farmer, who has been fitting in lunch time runs three or four times a week among calving, work and family. However, he had a good base fitness from playing rugby for Hauraki North and aimed to finish the marathon under four hours, he said. He has already raised $3554 for Starship and hopes to raise $5000. "We are extremely appreciative of support from family and friends."

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Cancer Society


Valentina Missen is on a mission.

Having decided to run five marathons before turning 50 this year, the new runner will be lacing up her trainers at the Auckland Marathon to raise money for Cancer Society New Zealand.

Her journey began a few years ago "running power pole to power pole," after her husband challenged her to run a marathon.

Missen has now completed three marathons, including the freezing cold Taupo Marathon where her friend collapsed with hypothermia.

"I was wondering which of my toes they were going to cut off first."

The Auckland Marathon will be Missen's second run for the Cancer Society, inspired by her cousin's wife's cancer diagnosis and by her work at Unichem Pharmacy Orewa.

"So many families come into the pharmacy who are worse off," she says.

"Five hours is nothing compared to what they are going through.

"This is not hard. It's a little uncomfortable, but when you finish, you know you've done something good."

Missen says fundraising has been going well so far, and she is nearly halfway to her goal of $700.

Cancer Society


In 2013 Nicky ran the Auckland Half Marathon for the Cancer Society. "I raised funds and awareness, and was proud to represent an organization that takes great care of people who are each fighting their own tough battle against cancer. I was also proud to finish my second half marathon!"

In 2015 Nicky's husband, who was 32 at the time, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in his jaw – an aggressive cancerous tumor that required urgent surgery whereby half his jawbone was removed and recreated using bone and muscle from his leg. Following his operation, and allowing time for his infected leg wound to heal, he received six rounds of intensive chemotherapy over 18 weeks. 

"During this incredibly tough time the Cancer Society offered their support", Nicky said. "What was thought to be merely a toothache turned out to be an aggressive tumour, and we are incredibly thankful for the quick actions and thorough follow-through by his dentist (Ed Young), Head and Neck Specialist (Nigel Parr), and Surgeons (Mark Izzard, Rajan Patel and their team)". Adam is now in remission.

Since running her half marathon, and in addition to her husband’s inspiring fight against cancer, Nicky has had other numerous people close to her that have also been affected by cancer where either a family member or friend has had to fight a brave and courageous battle.

"It was at this point that I wanted to help fund research for the prevention of cancer", said Nicky. "Therefore, this year I am going to run my first ever full marathon in the ASB Auckland Marathon. Representing the Cancer Society, I am determined to raise as much money as possible in the lead up to my marathon, with all money going towards cancer research to help save lives. For each kilometre of the 42km run, I will be thinking of all those close to me that have been affected. My brother - Chris Bennett - has also signed up to run the full marathon for the Cancer Society. I look forward to training together and running the marathon with him". 

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Robyn's cancer journey began in May 2015. She had just turned 45 and had her first free mammogram. The results were not good. She had stage 2 breast cancer. Three weeks later she was in surgery having a partial mastectomy. A week after which she was then told the cancer had spread to her first lymph node meaning she required a second surgery to remove more lymph nodes. Thankfully these next lymph nodes were clear. After having the two surgeries I she underwent 12 weeks of chemotherapy and then 6 weeks of radiation.

Robyn said "during my treatment I was not only overwhelmed by the support from family and friends, but also from the Cancer Society. Having the friendly community liaison nurses coming in to check on you, especially after having chemotherapy, was so reassuring." Until her own cancer journey, Robyn did not realise what services were actually available from the Cancer Society and how much assistance is provided to cancer patients. These include transport services, accommodation, counselling, exercise programmes, and of course the community liaison nurses to name just a few. "I think we all know someone that has or will experience cancer. The Cancer Society will just make things a little bit easier when that time comes" said Robyn.

With her treatment now over Robyn want to do something to give back to the Cancer Society; "this is why I have signed up to take part in the 12k Traverse (part of the Auckland Marathon) and raise funds for them. A month ago I struggled to walk across a carpark, but I am now attending the gym again and have Kiel from the Papakura Recreation Centre as a personal trainer. Kiel believes with some hard work, and with his support, this goal is very achievable at the end of October."

"I know I am not going to be first over the finish line, but with the support I am receiving I am determined to cross that finish line. My friend Becks Stratton is also going to do the event with me for encouragement (That is Becks and I in the profile picture on my last day of chemotherapy)" said Robyn.

Help Robyn achieve her goal and Donate to her efforts in helping Cancer Society #stepoutforcancer. Any amount big or small will be appreciated.