Comic antics show laughter is best medicine

Weekly pantomime for sick neighbour

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 12:00 15/02/2014
Megan Norquay, front, with her sister, Zoe
MARION VAN DIJK

Brighter day: Megan Norquay, front, with her sister, Zoe, laughs as she heads past her friends’ latest colourful send-off on her way to chemotherapy.

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What started as a quick wave goodbye has bloomed into a weekly pantomime in Mary Connor and Clancy Hunt's Atawhai garden to help an ill neighbour.

The couple have known sisters Megan and Zoe Norquay for many years.

Shortly before Christmas, Megan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, with her first chemotherapy session to follow on the Friday afterwards.

"It started with us just waving her off," said Mary.

She and Clancy wore Christmas decorations outside when they knew Megan and Zoe would be driving past on their way to the clinic. The next week they had a different set of costumes, and the week after that they had changed again.

"It just started from there and now it's completely and utterly bizarre," Clancy said. "We just wanted to give her a giggle."

The costumes reached their zenith on the third week: "That was the week we flashed . . . but, surprise, Megan had a camera."

Since then, they have dressed up as garden gnomes complete with real fish on the end of their fishing rods; bathing beauties with shower caps and a toilet seat borrowed from a renovation project in Weka St; outlandish fighters clothed in coffee bean sacks, and more.

They have recently begun to add signs into their repertoire, one proclaiming "Down with Harold". Zoe explained that the group has referred to Megan's cancer as "Harold" since her diagnosis.

"We finally got the diagnosis and nobody ever says the word. Mary just jumped up and said ‘Harold!' And we said, we were going to say cancer, but OK, it's Harold."

The women are also raising money for the Gynaecological Cancer Foundation on charity fundraising website Everyday Hero. Clancy said they started out aiming for $700, but their total topped $3000 by yesterday afternoon.

With one week to go on Megan's nine weeks of chemo, Zoe said the effort to distract her sister from the pain of treatment was working. She said she and Megan never knew what each day would bring, but the skits put a smile on Megan's face and gave her something good to think about during the long hours in the clinic.

"It just gets us out of the house and on our way, and then once we're down the street, we just keep on going."

To donate to the fundraising campaign started on Megan's behalf, visit: https://give.everydayhero.com/nz/clancy

SILENT KILLER

Atawhai woman Clancy Hunt is fundraising for the Gynaecological Cancer Foundation while her friend Megan Norquay undergoes treatment for ovarian cancer. Clancy described ovarian cancer as a "silent killer", saying its symptoms were similar to many benign problems: "By the time symptoms arrive, you have a challenge on your hands." She urged women who suspected they may have ovarian cancer to pay for a private ultrasound, saying it was worth paying the money and getting quick results rather than waiting to go through the public health system. "It's a hard one to diagnose but you just need to have it in the back of your head and be a bit proactive." The foundation lists suspicious symptoms as: Bloating: Persistent bloating that doesn't come and go. Eating: Difficulty eating, and feeling full more quickly. Abdominal: Abdominal and pelvic pain felt most days. The foundation recommends telling your doctor about these symptoms. Other symptoms may include needing to urinate more often and urgently; a change in bowel habits; excessive fatigue and back pain.

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- The Nelson Mail

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