February 2014: Mrs Leef, mum of ten and nanny to fifteen will turn sixty this year and is looking very much to the future but is matter-of-fact about her prognosis, saying that although "it's not all about", starting a Whānau Ora plan has allowed Whaea Louise to focus on what is most important, her health and her beautiful moko.
The Whānau Ora plan she has made includes goals that are centred on making sure she gives her tīnana (body) the resilience it needs to keep her moving and planning. She has changed her diet, no longer smokes or drinks, only eats healthy foods, and has introduced new kai to her whare (household). She is proud to say that she no longer only uses the wheelchair she was bound to for so long. Walking and exercising for Whaea Louise now gives her a sense of independence and helps keep her fit.
Spending time talking with others who are on the same journey has been therapeutic for Mrs Leef, allowing her to share and offer support to other cancer sufferers.
"I want to help others who are dealing with cancer" says Mrs Leef, after explaining her weekly trip to Rotorua Hospital for her chemotherapy. Rotorua Community Hospice and Aroha Mai Cancer Support have helped a great deal and Mrs Leef hopes to volunteer there one day.
Paeārahi and Service Development Manager for the Te Arawa Whānau Ora Collective, Veronica Butterworth, who was with Whaea Louise when she learned that her cancer had returned says "she's an absolute inspiration, in spite of the challenges she faces, she remains incredibly positive, she organises her treatment, benefits, transport and ensures that she is kept in the loop when it comes to her medical notes and specialist care".
For Whaea Louise, surrounding herself with positivity is the key, she doesn't want pity or mokemoke (sadness) she wants to enjoy the time she has, saying, her eyes filled with laughter and love "my future is bright, I'm doing all this for myself and my most importantly for my moko".