Island News

Prayers keep family’s hope alive

Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU. The pain she felt when she was first told her son was sick and to prepare herself for the possibility of her one and only
19 Jul 2008 12:00

image Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU. The pain she felt when she was first told her son was sick and to prepare herself for the possibility of her one and only son not making is something Makarita Namatalevu hopes no other mother will get to experience or hear.
She said nothing prepared her for the phone call her family received last year telling them their son, a promising rugby player who was awarded a scholarship to study in New Zealand had the dreaded disease that no one ever wants to hear about – cancer.
Mrs Namatalevu described the day as one of the most painful in her life and when she initially heard her 21-year-old son, Osea was sick, she refused to accept it.
“There was never any indication while growing up that Osea was sick. He was bright and healthy and very athletic.
“He loved his rugby while growing up and basically the reason he’s over in New Zealand is because of a rugby scholarship.
“And when I was told he had “Hodgkin’s Lymphoma” cancer in the lymph node, my heart literally broke,” Mrs Namatalevu said.
She said her son is a very humble boy with a quiet personality and only speaks when spoken to and being the only boy in the family, the idea of his body being controlled by such a cruel disease is very hard for her to comprehend.
“I think of him all alone there and very far away from his family and it tears at my heart, but for one thing that I am so thankful for and that is the faith that we all have.
“Prayers are one thing that has kept us intact throughout this whole ordeal and it’s sad to say that we’re still going through it.
“But we remain hopeful in the sense that this is God who hears our cries and listens to the silent prayers of our hearts and we’re comforted that he has Osea wrapped in his arms,” said Mrs Namatalevu.
Osea was first diagnosed with the disease last year and he became very sick then and this time around, it’s very vital for him to get a bone marrow transplant or the disease could cost him his life.
Things didn’t look too fruitful for the Namatalevu family in the beginning as they fought hard to get one of his sisters over to New Zealand for the bone marrow transplant.
Osea’s father, Kelevi Namatalevu is a soldier and with travel bans imposed on all persons and family members associated in some way to the military regime, the New Zealand Government made it really difficult for any of Mrs Namatalevu’s daughter’s to go across to help their son and brother out.
In a heartfelt plea to the New Zealand Government, Mr Namatalevu asked Wellington to please grant visas for his son, so the transplant could go ahead and Osea can live and on Saturday, the family’s prayers came true and now Osea’s younger sister, Mereoni is bound for New Zealand in the quest to get her brother better and the family’s life back to normal.
Mereoni is a student at St Joseph’s Secondary School in Suva and her trip to the land of the long white clouds would be her first out of the country.
For Mereoni, she never anticipated that her first trip abroad would be for a life saving mission and the life she would be helping to save would be her elder brother’s.
She said she has never been so thankful to the New Zealand Government for granting her a visa to travel to Nelson for her brother’s treatment.
But she said that never in her mind did she doubt that her visa would come through.
“I remained optimistic all along and I knew with the little faith I had, things would come through for us.
“In a huge way, I am not so worried about Osea because I know God has him safely wrapped in his loving arms and will take care of him no matter what,” Mereoni said.
She said the support has been so overwhelming from everywhere and is grateful her older brother is in a country where he would be well looked after during his illness.
“Everyone has just been so supportive, especially here in the home front and the military has helped us in so many ways possible,” said the 17-year-old.
Currently Osea is understood to be undergoing chemotherapy and would require urgent transplant and Mereoni’s presence there would seal the deal.
The military had launched an appeal to raise money to send Mereoni over and assistance also came through from the army medical scheme.
It’s understood the process of stem cell harvesting would begin on July 21 to 25 and the transplant proper would begin straight after that.
New Zealand physician, Physician Steve Delaney stated in an email to Osea’s guardian Peter McCoy: “Should he (Osea) have second line standard chemotherapy, the chance of long term survival is virtually nil. Should he have a high dose procedure at a tertiary centre, his chance of long term survival would be approximately 30 percent. This would be the usual course of action in one so young.”
But for the Namatalevu family, everything according to them was now in God’s hand and they hoped nothing but the best for their young son and brother.
The total cost for the bone marrow transplant is $50,000 and without the transplant, Osea only has a 30 per cent chance of survival.

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