Mother refuses to let expensive battle with cancer beat her
A Manawatu mother cannot afford the treatment she needs to stay alive.
Lisa Torres has turned to her parents' retirement fund to continue holistic measures and prolong her life after being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2015.
The 43-year-old from Feilding, near Palmerston North, wants to spend more time with her two boys, aged 9 and 4, but treatment comes at a weekly cost of $400.
On June 30, the community will rally together for a charity auction to help Torres fund her treatment. Organised by her two best friends, Megan Gowan and Jodie Woods, she hoped it would ease her parents' burden.
"I don't want them to be using their retirement fund on me – it's not OK. At the same time, I don't want to be that person who asks other people for money."
Torres is turning to holistic treatment, including increasing the consumption of whole foods, fruits and vegetables, and not consuming any red or processed meats.
It also includes ozone therapy – a form of alternative medicine increasing the amount of oxygen in the body. A machine extracts blood, adding oxygen before it is then reinfused.
Torres said there were reports of its benefits, including to cancer sufferers, however, no credible or medical evidence supports its use.
She is leasing a machine to administer the treatment and intends to buy one, but it comes with a $10,000 price tag.
The charity auction will help her to do this and other non-funded supplements to aid her holistic approach.
Following her diagnosis in August 2015, she underwent surgery to have a tumour removed, but surgeons found the cancer had spread to her liver and other parts of her body.
Initially, they responded to chemotherapy and radiation treatment and, after six months, had virtually subsided. However, scans in March discovered the tumour had returned, grown to 1.8 centimetres and could not be operated on.
This meant the condition was no longer curable, with management now directed towards improving Torres' quality of life and symptoms.
Although her children were unaware of the condition, she was doing everything she could to have more time with them.
"I didn't think they needed to know," she said. "One of my main motivators is to stick around for the kids and to stick around for other people who live in fear and shut down because of it [cancer]."
She refuses to let a grim outlook consume her.
"The doctors said this would happen because it's terminal. I chose not to believe it.
"There is fear, there's a lot of fear when you're diagnosed. I was terrified. All I had seen about cancer was what you see on TV – that you were going to die."
Instead, Torres saw it as a chance to make a change – to her lifestyle, mentality and approach to life.
You can follow Torres' progress on Facebook at Lisa'sCharityAuction.