Friends and whānau pay tribute to breast cancer drug advocate

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

Friends and family carry Wiki Mulholland’s casket to the hearse at her funeral service.

Whānau and friends were deeply important to Palmerston North woman and cancer advocate Wiki Mulholland.

Mulholland had been an advocate for better access to cancer drugs since she was diagnosed with the most advanced stage of breast cancer in May 2018. She died on Friday, aged 43.

Since her diagnosis she and her husband Malcolm have lobbied the Government to provide more funding for cancer drugs such as Ibrance and been vocal advocates for people living with cancer.

She was farewelled at a service at Beauchamp Funeral Home on Monday where friends and family paid tribute.

READ MORE:
* Breast cancer drug advocate Wiki Mulholland dies
* Life-extending breast cancer drug Ibrance to be fully funded from April
* Relief at long-awaited cancer drug funding

DAVID UNWIN/STUFF

Wiki Mulholland, who has stage-four breast cancer, speaks to Stuff in 2018 on her fight to have a life-saving drug funded. (First published August 30, 2018)

Malcolm said his wife was fiercely intelligent and had a big heart.

“While cancer took her life it didn’t define her.”

She had many achievements, including winning the manu kōrero secondary schools speech competition, being a youth Parliament representative and working to develop marae in the central North Island.

But Malcolm said their three children were her world and she turned down jobs in Wellington to make sure the family had a stable environment in Palmerston North.

David Unwin/Stuff

Wiki Mulholland was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2018.

Her decision to go public with her diagnosis was about wanting to spend more time with her children.

She was a great supporter of the children and encouraged them to live life to the fullest.

Mulholland’s daughter Molly Rose said she and her brothers were everything to their mother and she had given them every opportunity, taking them to things like sport or dance.

She said her mother had a love of owls and she shared characteristics with the bird in that she was wise, placid and awake at crazy times of the night.

“On behalf of us, thank you for being the best mum I could have asked for.”

Israel Tangaroa Birch was a long-time friend of Mulholland, but she referred to him as her brother. He said Mulholland made everyone she knew brothers and sisters.

“As soon as you became friends you were whānau.”

He said Mulholland had great mana in her life and her friendship was mana enhancing for people.

“The purpose of mana is to recognize everyone is equal. If someone wasn’t well she would elevate people’s mana.”

DAVID UNWIN/Stuff

Wiki Mulholland’s husband Malcolm in an embrace after the funeral.

Friend Janice Roxburgh-Gair, who appeared via video, said Mulholland was vibrant, talented and intelligent.

“No matter who she worked with she left them feeling strengthened.”

She said people loved and respected Mulholland.

When Mulholland was diagnosed with cancer she was only supposed to live for 14 months, but she lived for three-and-a-half years.

She and Malcolm started lobbying Pharmac to fund cancer drugs like Ibrance, which were costing people $5800 a month to use.

In 2018 the Mulhollands led a group of more than 100 women and supporters to Parliament to deliver a petition, signed by more than 30,000 people, asking for Pharmac to fund treatments for advanced breast cancer like Ibrance and Kadcyla.

Pharmac announced last year it would fund Ibrance, which gave people more time and brought Mulholland joy and comfort.

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