Woman diagnosed with cancer at 36 weeks pregnant fighting to stay alive for kids

A Northland woman who was diagnosed with cancer at 36 weeks pregnant seeks treatment abroad to spend more time with her young children.

Trish Waipouri, 38, discovered a lump in her left breast just over five years ago while living in Australia.

She was in the process of moving back home at the time and decided she would have it checked when she was settled back in Pawarenga in the Far North.

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

Trish Waipouri was first diagnosed with breast cancer while 36 weeks pregnant with her second child.

A biopsy confirmed invasive ductal carcinoma, and after 36 weeks of pregnancy, Waipouri found out she had breast cancer.

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The plan was to induce her so the baby could be born and then remove the lump six weeks later to find out what stage the cancer was in before radiation started.

But Waipouri, from Te Aupōuri, got complications because she had breast implants. She learned that radiation over the implant could create a scar capsule around it and didn’t want that to happen.

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

Trish Waipouri plans to go to Mexico for cancer treatment to prolong her life.

She asked if her implants could be removed during surgery to give her the best chance of fighting the cancer, but this was not possible.

When she found that her diagnosis was most likely stage 3 and the risk radiation could cause in terms of secondary lung cancer and damage to her heart given the location of the nodule, she declined treatment.

The surgeon was reluctant to offer alternative treatment methods, Waipouri said, telling her that if she didn’t get the treatment, she could die within a year.

Ricky Wilson / Stuff

Trish Waipouri found that her cancer had progressed to stage 4 when her youngest child was 1.

Waipouri gave birth to her son Faelen, now 5, and after breastfeeding him for a year, she was focused on removing the lump.

She soon became pregnant with her daughter Keva, now 3, and breastfed her for another year.

After putting the health and well-being of her children first, Waipouri discovered that the cancer had spread to her bones and was now stage 4.

Hearing the news was “hard,” but she tried not to look at it as if it meant immediate death, she said.

In 2019, Waipouri had a double mastectomy through the private system. She knew it wouldn’t save her life, but she wanted to do what she could to prolong it, as she was the primary caregiver for her children, she said.

She started hormone therapy later that year and in 2020 she was given a newly funded drug called Ibrance, but said it didn’t help much.

A recent scan showed new lesions in her liver and through her sternum and pelvis.


Trish Waipouri, pictured with her two youngest children Keva and Faelen MacCormack.

Waipouri has found a healthcare facility in Mexico, the Sanoviv Institute, where she can get her cancer treatments in one place.

This includes immunotherapy, immune modulation, detoxification and recovery of body nutrients.

The cost to go to the clinic and get three weeks of intensive treatment for 12 hours a day is $80,000. While she has half the money, her family helps her collect the other half.

Waipouri hopes the treatment program she can get at the Mexican clinic will help her get her health back to a manageable state.

“Right now, if I keep going the same way, I’ll probably struggle for years to come and not be that great.

“I hope it can give me a good boost to extend my life a little more.”

Potentially traveling abroad during a pandemic is not a concern for Waipouri.

“I already have cancer. There’s nothing worse than that.”

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