Christchurch Mail : May 5th 2016
Paradise in a housing lot P8 Abrighter autumn P11 Christchurch’s largest circulating community newspaper Thursday, May 5, 2016 Ajob that’s been full oflife CanTeen carer Sarah Apiata has gone from having a caseload of more than 100 people down to just one, her four-month-old son Matai. She reflects back on her CanTeen years with Matthew Lau and says the job was ‘a privilege’. When she interviewed for a CanTeen vacancy five years ago, Sarah Apiata knew instantly it was the ideal role for her as it fulfilled her passion for working with people. Eight years prior, she ran a fundraiser for CanTeen – an organisation supporting young people living with cancer – while working as a speech and language therapist at Tauranga Hospital. A fleeting thought popped into her head; how good it would be to work for CanTeen. Based within Christchurch Hospital, the caregiver and youth worker role was an opportunity for Apiata to "journey with young people through cancer treatment and beyond…it was about going the distance with them". CanTeen provides support for young people aged 13-24 who are livingwith cancer - patients, their siblings, bereaved siblings, and young people who have lost a parent to cancer. As a person who pours her heart and soul into her job, it was inevitable she would develop strong connections with patients and their families. "I don’t think I could do a good job if I didn’t make a connection because it’s such a core part of supporting people. I’ve always said to myself, ’If there’s ever a day when a person becomes a number to me, then that’s the day I should leave this job’." Sarah Apiata loves working with teens and young people with cancer in her role with CanTeen. While there were times, Apiata said, when the heartbreak of supporting terminal young people took its toll, she never dreaded going into work. "The privilege of journeying with these young people always outweighed the pain. "At the end of the day, you go home and you have to put some of it aside... otherwise it could break your heart permanently." Apiata admits there have been tears cried behind the scenes. "I wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t. You can’t see some of this stuff and walk away with it not affecting you." A perception she wants to quash is a belief that CanTeen caregivers work mainly with people who are dying. "In reality I worked with a lot more people who were livingwith cancer, not dying of cancer. There was a lot of life in my job, and inevitably there was some death.’’ Turn to page 5 to read more about Sarah and the young people she has supported.
April 28th 2016