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he medical experts
described it as “ wall to
wall” cancer and after
two months of intensive
chemotherapy there was
Anton Kuraia was sent home from
hospital with weeks to live and told he
would slip into a coma and die.
The 43-year-old Whangarei policeman
and father of three was left shattered and
“I remember asking my oncology doctor
if there was anything I could do, anything
at all. But it was made clear that there
were no other options and that certain
death would be upon me.”
He went to senior police bosses and
broke down in tears explaining his
“I asked if I could be buried in my police
uniform and whether I should resign. ”
Then, with his wife Louise, he made one
of the hardest decisions of his life; to share
the dire prognosis with their three sons,
Sebastian, Julius and Luca.
“Although our boys suspected something
was wrong, my news was met with the
worst grief imaginable. It felt like the
worst moment of my life, especially when
my youngest said: ‘Dad I have only known
you for 10 years of my life’.
“I was a complete mess until I looked
over my wife’s shoulder and watched
Sebastian embrace Julius, who in turn
embraced Luca. Seb said to his brothers
‘ We’ll be all right, we’ll be okay’.”
Anton says as they held and comforted
each other he felt a deep peace in the
realisation that his sons would indeed be
okay without him.
“They all seemed to grow in purpose.
My wife and I looked at each other
and felt a quiet relief. In retrospect, that
moment will always make my heart smile
and opened my eyes to a different way of
Sitting on the couch at his home in
Kamo Anton, now looking healthy, he
explains how he reached the lowest point
and decided to look for alternatives.
The terrifying rollercoaster ride that is
cancer began for the Kuraia family in May
last year when Anton was diagnosed with
acute myloid leukaemia (AML), a cancer
of the blood and bone marrow.
Looking back he said there were signs —
the bloody noses, the major bruises — but
at the time he was training intensively for
a charity boxing match organised by the
police. Then he suffered a serious neck
injury and pulled out of the event.
“I guess they were all little signs. I just
kept pushing myself to the limit training
twice a day seven days a week.”
It was son Seb who noticed Anton was
not well one day and raised his concerns
with mum Louise.
An immediate trip to the doctor involved
a blood test, and more the following
Then the doctor rang and told Anton
to get to the emergency department at
Whangarei Hospital — and pack a bag.
“That ’s when I got a bit worried and
in my gut I had a feeling something was
seriously wrong,” he recalls.
It was an ambulance trip to Auckland
Hospital where more blood tests
confirmed their worst fears.
Within 48 hours of signing official
papers he was undergoing a first course of
chemotherapy which was to continue for
“For the first few weeks I couldn’t do
anything,” Anton says.
“Louise did everything and kept the
family together. She was the one talking
to people at work and keeping everyone
The intensive chemotherapy took its toll
and Anton dropped from 96kg to 74kg.
“They pushed the envelope as hard
as they could.I was so sickIlay on my
hospital bed and I couldn’t open my eyes
to see my family. ”
Then there was nothing they could do.
After 10 weeks in hospital and two cycles
of chemotherapy Anton was discharged
on July 31 with the news his cancer was
too aggressive and he had eight weeks to
“It was a couple of days of hell. We got
all the tears out for the rest of the year.”
It was then Anton considered other
The role of alternative therapies in cancer
treatments has always been controversial.
Doctors very rarely endorse them, instead
they might cautiously say they are happy
for patients to seek other options, but
when you have no options left you will try
Two days after Anton was sent home
Sebastian came home from school and
mentioned a friend’s uncle had used high
dose vitamin C to help combat his cancer.
The uncle had seen Dr Wojcik at the
Northland Environmental Health Clinic.
Anton got on the internet and googled
“I naturally looked into high dose
vitamin C, therapies and supplements on
the other side of the pharmaceutical fence.
“ Why is it that we call everything that
isn’t conventional medicine ‘alternative’?
“ When you reflect on the simple
methodology of alternatives you soon
discover that the term ‘naturals’ is a clearer
description,” he said.
“ Naturals support, detoxify and
gently encourage the body to create an
environment in which cancer struggles to
sur vive. ”
Anton’s diet was given a major overhaul,
with sugar being a definite no-go food.
Fresh vegetable and fruit smoothies
became the order of the day as he followed
a blood type diet.
The high dose liquid form of vitamin C
is 90g of clear liquid taken intravenously
to bypass the gut: “It takes 2-4 hours and
you feel a bit groggy after wards. ”
The sessions cost $200 each.
After 10 weeks of healthy eating and
infusions — two weeks longer than
experts had predicted he would live —
Anton was feeling better and agreed to
have a bone marrow biopsy.
The results revealed the cancer had
dwindled to less than 1%. The cancer was
in complete remission.
Anton describes that moment as
“extraordinary and surreal”.
At the end of November he agreed
to undergo preparations for a Haploid
(bone marrow) transplant at Auckland
Hospital as doctors said he should
undergo the procedure during this window
of opportunity. He was deemed an ideal
candidate with a 40 to 45% chance of
“After a course of pre-transplant
chemotherapy I decided to pull out of the
programme because it became difficult
to believe in a programme that hindered
the use of any adjunctive therapies like
vitamin C or cater to my dietary needs.
“ Because a team of oncology doctors
had at first sent me home to die,
then dismissed the contribution of
unconventional therapies used by me after
my unusual recovery and then predict the
inevitable onset of cancer without the
transplant, it became difficult to trust in
As he left hospital in early December
oncologists guaranteed a relapse within six
months without the transplant.
It is now April and Anton’s journey
Just a few weeks ago he returned to work
for three half days a week.
“ What a special moment it was. There
were tears and hugs throughout the
entire day which at times left me a little
While he is not back on the front line
yet, that is where he wants to be by the
end of the year.
“ To be that custodian of peace, jack of
all trades and sucker for punishment once
again suits my persona. I can’t wait to wear
my uniform again, even if it’s two sizes too
Anton said the support from his police
mates — who he has walked the beat with
for six years — has been amazing.
“ From the compassionate and gentle
words of encouragement from our recently
retired commissioner Peter Marshall to
the tongue-and-cheek humour of close
colleagues, my journey so far has been
breathtaking and gratefully appreciated.
“ From the moment I was diagnosed with
leukaemia the police, as an organisation
and in particular the Northland Police,
have rallied to support my cause and
continue to be an invaluable extension
of my family. I am truly lucky and will
forever appreciate their love and ongoing
Anton doubts he would still be alive if
it had not been for the financial support
through the police sick leave scheme
which has funded the vitamin C doses.
While 2013 was not the kindest year,
Anton says he has been able to share and
touch the hearts of many. He is more
c lear-headed than he has ever been.
“ I have had the privilege of speaking
with a number of cancer sufferers who
are either looking for other options to
complement their conventional therapies
or the heroic few that were released from
hospital without hope.
“It’s busy but it’s a privilege to be able to
talk to these people and give them advice.
I think about what I would have wanted
information on and the other options that
are out there. ”
Anton reckons his journey and remission
has provided him with a new sense of
purpose and appreciation of life.
“ I hope my experiences can inspire and
comfort those who are affected by cancer.
“ I understand the fragile nature of my
situation but I choose to focus on enjoying
every moment of every day rather than
worry about what time I have left.”
4 - Wednesday, May 7, 2014
We appreciate the value of the Letters to the Editor
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welcome your opinion and suggestions.
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Post to PO Box 3, Greymouth, fax to 768 6205 or
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uLetters to the editor
1888 - George Eastman introduces his Kodak
camera with the slogan: “You push the button,
we do the rest.”
1915 - Germans sink British liner Lusitania
off Irish coast, and more than 1100
1945 - May 7-8, Germany
surrenders World War Two and the
Third Reich ceases to exist.
1954 - Vietnamese forces overrun
Dien Bien Phu, held by the French.
1957 - Eliot Ness, the US
government agent who battled against illegal
liquor in Chicago during Prohibition, dies.
1963 - US launches Telstar 2 communications
1975 - US President Gerald Ford formally
declares an end to the Vietnam era and in Ho
Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) the Viet
Cong hold a rally to celebrate their takeover.
1980 - Paul Geidel, convicted of second-
degree murder in 1911, is released from prison
in Beacon, New York, after serving 68 years and
245 days: the longest ever time ser ved.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Robert Browning, English poet (1812-1899);
Johannes Brahms, German composer (1833-
1897); Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky,
Russian composer (1840-1893);
Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslav president
(1892-1980); Gary Cooper, US actor
(1901-1961); Eva Peron, Argentine
popular leader (1919-1952); Teresa
Brewer, US singer (1931-2007);
Jimmy Ruffin, US singer (1939-);
Robbie Knievel, US daredevil (1962-
); Traci Lords, British actress (1968-).
“There is no one who became rich because he
worked on a holiday, and no one who became
fat because he broke a fast.”
— Ethiopian proverb.
“ For God did not give us a spirit of
cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of
love and of self-discipline.” — (2 Timothy 1.7).
A large fall of stone
has prevented work
at the No 2 Liverpool
State coal mine. The
overnight fall blocked the main rope road. It
meant no work on either day or back shift
The mine manager Mr J Lundon said this
morning it was still indefinite when the colliery
would resume production. “ But it is hoped that
will be tomorrow,” he said.
Westland has the newest airstrip in New
Zealand. it would also be one of the loneliest
and most isolated fields in the country. It is
sited adjacent to the waters of the Whakapohai
River and has been constructed by the firm of
Roadways (NZ) Ltd, the company engaged
in carrying out the northern end road-driving
work for the complete linking of the Haast
The firm has 20 men engaged on this project
in far South Westland and in their spare time
they carried out the construction. This job took
approximately a fortnight to complete and
the strip was ready for its first plane about six
Company director, Mr L R Stephen, of
Oamaru, told the Evening Star that the strip
has been built to give quick access to the
Roadways’ main job. Such aircraft as Cessna
and Dominie can operate off the strip and the
flying time to Oamaru has been logged at 1hr
20min. “By road it takes 12 hours but the cost
is the same,” continued the director.
Yesterday Midland Line railcar driver
Mr V Claude made his final official trip to
Greymouth. Mr Claude has driven on the line
to the West Coast and back for the past 23
years. On Monday he retires from NZR after
40 years of ser vice.
uFood for thought
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03 769 7900 (office)
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Taking on Big C
Diagnosed with cancer followed by failed chemotherapy Anton Kuraia was given
only weeks to live. He started planning his funeral. Then he tried intensive infusions of
vitamin C. Ten months on and he is alive with the cancer in remission. The Whangarei
policeman’s journey has given him a new sense of purpose and appreciation for life. He
talks to Northern Advocate reporter KRISTIN EDGE.
PICTURE: Northern Advocate
Anton Kuraia is choosing to enjoy ever y moment of every day rather than worry about what time is left.
Maori are more likely to watch
shows like Homai te Pakipaki or Te
Karere than learn their whakapapa
and family history to express their
cultural identity, a survey shows.
The first sur vey on Maori well-
being by Statistics New Zealand
showed the most commonly reported
modern cultural activity Maori adults
engaged in was watching a Maori
Last year 396,500 people — or 75%
of those sur veyed — said they had
watched a Maori television show.
This was a greater number than
those exploring their whakapapa or
family history (60%) or those taking
part in Maori performing arts or
The survey showed that more
Maori (44%) were connecting using
social networking sites such as
Facebook and Twitter than meeting
at traditional hui (39%) or festivals
such as Pa Wars or Waitangi Day
IT ser vices manager Nichola Haira
of Hamilton, whose iwi are Ngati
Tuwharetoa and Te Arawa, laughed
when told Maori were more likely
to express their cultural identity by
watching certain tv shows.
Mrs Haira grew up on her two
marae — Mokai, north-west of
Taupo and Waitete in Rotorua —
working in the kitchen for different
While the 40-year-old mother of
two young adult sons said she did
not know her pepeha (tribal saying)
for either of her marae and out of
a rating of 10 for te reo ability she
gave herself “about a 2”, she says her
marae remains the centre of her being
“That ’s how I have always identified
myself, knowing who my whanau are,
the marae I am associated with and
going back to it and being involved
with the whanau.”
She was surprised to hear about the
social networking platforms being a
more popular way of communicating
for Maori than on the marae.
“I guess if our marae had wireless
and they had the devices on, then
we would have more people at the
marae,” she said.
The sur vey showed there had been
an increase in the number of Maori
adults who had some ability to speak
te reo Maori — up from 42% of
those surveyed in 2001 to 55% last
year with a large increase in younger
Maori with reo ability.
But it also revealed the proportion
of Maori speaking completely or
mostly in the language had decreased
across all activities outside the home.
In the context of hui this number
had halved from 22% in 2001 to 11%
Last year 373,000 (70%) of
Maori aged 15 or older said it was
important for them to be involved in
their culture. Only 10% said it was
not at all important.
The sur vey gives an overall picture
of the social, cultural and economic
well-being of Maori in New Zealand.
— New Zealand Herald
PICTURE: New Zealand Herald
Nichola Haira says her marae remains the centre of her being Maori.
Maori tuning in to identity on television
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