This week's newsmaker is Tia Loffley, a Rotorua mother who had her head shaved last Saturday to raise money for her family, Shave for a Cure and Leukemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. Her four-year-old daughter Tianajay Klomp-Loffley, is in Starship Hospital having completed chemotherapy treatment for acute myeloid leukaemia.
Tell us about yourself, family and your interests.
I am a proud 26-year-old Maori mother of three. I enjoy many things mostly working out reading and down time with whanau. My family and I are a tight unit, those who live in my household and outside including sisters, and cousins. My family means most to me.
This past weekend you had your head shaved as part of Shave for a Cure. Why did you do it?
I shaved my head in the hope to raise money for a worthy cause and for my daughter who has leukaemia, she thinks now with my head shaved that I am beautiful like her. I guess that is how a much loved four-year-old sees it.
How has your experience with Starship Hospital been.
Starship itself is a wonderful place and undoubtedly the best place for Tianajay to be while she battles cancer.
Are you impressed with the support you have received as a family?
I am very overwhelmed with the support from the community both towards the cause and Tianajay.
Did you know anything about Starship or Leukemia before Tianajay's diagnosis?
I had a close friend who suffered the same as Tianajay when I was growing up, so I had been to Starship and seen some things but I was a child and took in very little except for my friend's pain.
What would be your advice to other families in similar circumstances?
My advice would be, talk to other parents and families just so you have support from people you know are going through the same thing and don't feel like you are alone. Your battle may not be the same but the fact is you are all fighting. Also ask any and all questions from professionals, that is what they are there for.
Are scientists getting closer to a cure for leukaemia?
Sadly there is no cure for any childhood cancer, leukaemia included. I know of trials to try and improve treatments and prognosis but unfortunately scientists are no closer to a cure.
What have you learned from Tianajay' s experiences?
I have learned from Tianajay's experiences how easily children can be traumatized, yet at the same time how resilient they can be.
Does she make you a stronger person?
She has always made me a stronger person and mother. With this experience I realise there is nothing I wouldn't do for my kids if needed. At the same time my strength is minimal compared [with] her, I am in awe of her everyday.
What will you do to celebrate Tianajay's hospital release date as a family?
I think we will plan to do as many and as much things together as we can. This weekend her aunty, her brother, her cousins and myself are going to see her and be with her at Starship just to be by her side and celebrate a successful event last weekend in her name.
Her birthday is in December and I think that is a milestone that all of her family and friends should come together for, she fought a life threatening disease and she is still ticking off another year actually the "big five", a definite milestone!
Is there anything else people can do to support families with children in Starship?
I think people could maybe keep the word going around and think of new ideas of maybe entertainment or surprises. Anything to keep the spirits up for families facing a hard time and of course getting behind worthy causes in the hope the number of children admitted to Starship reduces.