Young mum of seven chooses child's life over her own

Emma Hughes in the Te Omanga Hospice. Hughes chose not to have treatment for her cancer in order to preserve the life of ...
NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Emma Hughes in the Te Omanga Hospice. Hughes chose not to have treatment for her cancer in order to preserve the life of her unborn child.

Emma Hughes chose not to have treatment for cervical cancer, so her unborn baby would have a life.

In March, the 26-year-old mum died in Te Omanga Hospice in Lower Hutt, more than a year after giving birth to her youngest child – Christian.

A tattoo along her forearm listed the names of her seven precious children. Christian's was added a short time before she died.

Fortchyne Hughes and her niece, Christian. Christian's mum, Emma, died in March.
NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Fortchyne Hughes and her niece, Christian. Christian's mum, Emma, died in March.

"That was just her. It was all about her kids with Emma," her sister, Fortchyne Hughes said.

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Emma Hughes had all her children's names tattooed on her arm. The last one was added shortly before she died in the Te ...
NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Emma Hughes had all her children's names tattooed on her arm. The last one was added shortly before she died in the Te Omanga Hospice.

Emma Hughes' diagnosis came shortly after she fell pregnant with Christian. She got to enjoy some time at home with him before being referred to the hospice.

Fortchyne said the hospice did everything to make the mum's last days meaningful and welcomed the Hughes' large whanau.

That included taking pictures of Emma with Christian and her extended family, and getting a biographer to record her life story.

Christian with her aunty, Fortchyne Hughes. "The support the hospice gave us as a family was just awesome. Emma got ...
NICHOLAS BOYACK/STUFF

Christian with her aunty, Fortchyne Hughes. "The support the hospice gave us as a family was just awesome. Emma got everything she needed."

In an unusual move, the hospice also arranged for a tattooist to ink Christian's name on Emma's arm, alongside her six other children.

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Fortchyne said her big sister was a real character who enjoyed life.

"She was hard case, I can tell you that. Hard case alright. She left seven kids all under the age of 11."

It was reassuring to know Emma was being well looked after and was safe. 

"To be honest I do not know how we would have coped without the hospice, I would not have a clue."

That sentiment is shared by their mother, Julia Tupene.

"I thought they were amazing, the staff for what they did for Emma and how they kept her comfortable."

The hospice is this week launching a campaign, Let's Nail It Together, to raise $10 million to rebuild its earthquake prone building.

Hospice chief executive Biddy Harford said staff dealt with such tragedies on a regular basis and said it was never easy to see a loved one die.

"The hospice is here for everyone ... we are there to fulfil a need."

TE OMANGA BY THE NUMBERS

  • Te Omanga looks after 600 patients and their family a year
  • ​Patients receive an average of 137 days of treatment.
  • It costs $6.5 million a year to run the hospice. Te Omanga raises $2m annually.
  • Nearly 50 per cent of patients die in their own home.
  • There are 150 patients receiving care at any one time.
  • Staff make 7500 outpatient visits a year.
  • ​The hospice serves the Hutt Valley and was opened in 1979 by Marion Cooper.

 - Stuff

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