iPad helps young girl tell her story

ANNA LOREN
Last updated 05:00 27/02/2013
Fehia Petelo

SPEAKING UP: Fehia Petelo is telling her own story through the iPad she received from the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

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Young cancer patient Fehia Petelo is making sure her voice is heard.

Her family thought she was using her new iPad much the same way as any other child - to play games, listen to music and take photos.

But she was also recording her own story in secret.

She used the iPad to make a short video of herself speaking about her life and her condition, only showing it to her family when it was finished.

"It started, ‘My name's Fehia, I'm 6 years old and I've got cancer'," her father Sefo says.

"When we watched the story, we all cried."

Fehia received her iPad from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children aged 3-17 with life-threatening medical conditions.

The youngster was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia - an extremely aggressive form of cancer that can be fatal in just a few weeks if left untreated - in October 2011.

She was rushed to Starship children's hospital where she stayed for the next two weeks.

"I think that was the worst for our family because we had no hope," Mr Petelo says.

"But we were able to talk to the other parents there and every time we talked they encouraged us."

Since then Fehia has endured twice-daily doses of medication, monthly rounds of chemotherapy and regular lumbar punctures in an effort to beat the cancer.

Her treatment leaves her so exhausted she's missed months of school and she gets weekly visits from a tutor so she can keep up with her peers.

Receiving the iPad from the Make-a-Wish Foundation was a bright spot in an otherwise gruelling year, her mother, also called Fehia, says.

The foundation delivered the iPad along with piles of other gifts, including a DVD player, soft toys and lollies, for Fehia and her sister and four brothers.

"She was so excited, running around," Mrs Petelo says.

"When they left she said, ‘OK, we're going to have a party', and she handed out the presents.

"She kept saying, ‘This is my Christmas'."

The Petelos say they're thankful to the foundation for making Fehia's wish come true but they're also grateful for the memories they will always have of their daughter.

"We've already put some of the photos from the iPad on a USB. Just in case something happens to her, we have a record," Mrs Petelo says.

They're also looking forward to December when Fehia is scheduled for her last round of chemotherapy.

"We just keep asking the Lord to help her," Mr Petelo says. We're getting to a better stage. It's really hard but we hope it's going to get better soon."

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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