Hastings woman Sonya Healey – known affectionately as Sunshine Sonya - has spent a poignant weekend in Hawke's Bay as a Race4Life wish.

The 36-year-old was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in January this year.

She found about Race4Life – a charity which fulfils the wishes of palliative care patients – through Cranford Hospice and got in touch with her wish before the Covid-19 lockdown.

For her, the most important thing to do with her remaining time is spending time with people and "making sure that everybody knows they are loved and spreading as much happiness and joy and sunshine as possible".


Originally, she had wanted to have a family weekend in Auckland to take her animal loving 8–year-old Nathanial and 2-year-old Julius to Kelly Tarlton's and the zoo but as her health has declined the family had a staycation instead.

"I thought why not do it here? We have such amazing stuff happening in Hawke's Bay as well and it was just awesome.

On Saturday the family visited the aquarium where Julius got to see the animals for the first time and had lunch at Breakers. Then Sonya got pampered at Amor Beauty Therapy while her partner Dave and two boys played mini-golf at Par 2 before dinner at Lone Star.

The family stayed at Porters Boutique Hotel and went to the Targa Rally on Sunday morning where Dave went for a ride in one of the cars and they gave out lollies to drivers.

They also went to the Hawke's Bay Farmyard Zoo, Hygge at Clifton Bay and Mister D Dining.

"I just want to spend time with family. The whole thing when you get given a terminal diagnosis is if you want quality or quantity and my thing is quality, I just want more time and awesome things to do with the family to create good memories for the boys.

Part of their weekend included the Targa rally where 2 year-old Julius Healey gave lollies out to the drivers. Photo / Paul Taylor
Part of their weekend included the Targa rally where 2 year-old Julius Healey gave lollies out to the drivers. Photo / Paul Taylor

"We would never have had the opportunity if it wasn't for Race4Life we would never spend money on ourselves like that. It's been an incredible weekend.

She was originally diagnosed with stage three cancer in June last year and did aggressive treatment in Wellington.


"When you've done all that treatment you kind of think 'I've done it all so it's surely going to work' then I got back October November then end of January being given a terminal diagnosis. Finding out that it's gotten worse is just gutting.

"At the same time, I look at it as though I've been given notice. I've been given the opportunity to make the most of moments rather than just being taken away.

"So many people lose people to tragedies really quickly and abruptly and I'm thankful that that is not me, that I do get the time to spend and be thankful for it.

"When you're faced with your own mortality, you can choose if you're going to make the most of every moment possible, or wallow in pain. I choose to enjoy the life I have."

She tries to keep her mind focussed on the positive, practises prayer and gratitude and "looks for the good things in every situation, even if it's just something small."

Healey has documented parts of her journey on her Sunshine Sonya vs Cancer YouTube channel.


She has also set up a Givealittle page named Sunshine Sonya's Wish to help provide for her boys when she is gone.