Whānau's spirits lifted by kindness of community

By Mahina Hurkmans

Just before Christmas, the Blakelock family was hit with the hard news that their oldest daughter had a rare form of cancer. To help ease the financial burden on the whānau, the community has come together to help support them.

Yvonne Blakelock, who doctors revealed has a rare form of cancer, is learning to face the illness.

"I'll have to re-learn how to breathe, eat and talk on my own," Yvonne says.

The Blakelock whānau was hit with the news that their oldest daughter has cancer just before Christmas.

"The doctors kept telling me that it was just a viral infection but it turns out that it wasn't, it was actually cancer."

Chantelle Blakelock (Ngāpuhi ) says the whānau are still coming to terms with the diagnosis.

"It has been really difficult because we've not really had a lot of time to adjust and comprehend everything that's happened. She was only diagnosed the week before Christmas."

The community has come together to help ease the financial burden on the family, with their tattoos being a constant reminder of their kindness.

Nicole Woods is one of the people who came to support Yvonne and her whānau.

"My family has suffered plenty of cancer trips, and all the hospitals and surgeries and stuff that go with it. It's all intertwined in the bow," Woods says. 

"It's a harsh disease and I've known many, many people to fall from it. We are here to back our sister Yvonne and her whānau up, and I couldn't think of a better person to show my support to." 

Although today is about easing the burden on the Blakelock whānau, the fundraiser has also helped the Wade family heal from their own circumstances. 

"To know that they were having this fundraiser, which is something that I wanted to do, and knowing that my money was going towards an awesome cause. And that's how we come about, that we come to do this, our suicide awareness tattoos," Tyrina Koti Wade (Ngāti Maniapoto) says.

Chantelle Blakelock says seeing people show such kindness to their whānau has really helped lift their spirits.

"It's days like this that really help pick you up because you see how much support you have from family and friends and the community. I love our community," she says.

Tomorrow, Yvonne will prepare for her surgery on Tuesday. She reminds everyone that love is the most important healer.

"You can overcome anything with love, just with love and faith and hope and just family."