Invictus Games - A triumph for wounded military personnel

By Regan Paranihi

Paulette Doctor of Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa will be participating in next year's Invictus Games.

She says the games are a life-changing experience for many armed forces personnel who have been wounded, injured or significantly ill during their service and she is excited to be participating on the sports battlefield again.

The Invictus Games were established by the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, to give servicemen and women another outlook on life with a disability.

Doctor has been in the Navy for 20 years and says, "If you're given the chance to do what I'm doing it's amazing and its all about participation and its all about being there and being counted."

 At the age of 29, Doctor was diagnosed with breast cancer, something she never thought she'd hear. 

"When I found one it was a jolt ... that I wasn't invincible as I always thought.  I was lucky enough, I was young and I had determined myself to come back to full active duty and I came back to service after six months of sick leave."

Just when she thought she was out of the woods, cancer struck again for a second time, making it a lot harder on her mental, physical and emotional state of mind.

"The second diagnoses had a greater impact on me.  I'd just become a mother and the thought of leaving my little boy really, really hurt me.  So emotionally I suffered a lot and i also developed sepsis so i almost lost my life."

This will be Doctors' second time participating in the games and she says its an experience she will remember forever.

"Being given the opportunity to participate in the Invictus Games has really helped me.  I'm now in a happier space, I'm determined to be a better mum and wife and just take every opportunity as it comes. No more 'what ifs' it's all about 'I can'."

She now has a positive outlook on her life and says the games have contributed to that. 

"We get the chance to compete against over 500 athletes from 19 allied nations in 10 adaptive sports.  Our team that is traveling over next year will be 22 persons made up of 13 men and 9 women so it's really, really exciting."

Doctor has been in remission for five years and has been cleared of cancer.  She's now focused on preparing for the Invictus Games next May