Mother’s anguish over telling children of cancer battle

Tori Peden. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Tori Peden. Photo: Geoff Sloan
There’s no rule book on how to tell your children you’ve got cancer - but for Christchurch community board chairwoman Tori Peden it was about making sure her five and nine-year-old kids know mum’s going to be fine.

The 37-year-old was diagnosed with stage two bowel cancer on April 22, four weeks into alert level 4.

But in spite of shock and fear of the unknown upon receiving the news, Peden says she is “grateful” to have recognised the signs early enough to get it taken care of.

She said it has been hard to explain what has been going on to her children Ryan and Julia.

"My son knows mum has got a sick tummy, whereas my daughter, we’ve been quite open with her.

"She does understand. One thing she needed to be reassured with is that I haven’t been told I’ve got cancer, therefore, I’m going to die – [instead], it’s I’ve been told I’ve got cancer, therefore, I need to get treated,” she said.

“They found it due to symptoms and family history. My father had bowel cancer in his 50s and my brother who lives in Australia has had polyps,” she said.

Peden has just started her six-week radiation and non-intensive chemotherapy treatment at St George’s Hospital, and will go through a cool-down period before the tumour is removed.

Bowel cancer is a highly treatable and beatable disease in 75 per cent of cases if it is caught early.

“The outlook looks really good, I’ve caught it early. But I’ve just got to go through a few bits and pieces.”

She said her husband, Murray Peden, has been incredibly supportive during the process and has been a big help by taking her to appointments and running around after the kids when she is busy.

Peden lives in Little River and is chairwoman of the Banks Peninsula Community Board. The community had rallied after they found out about the cancer.

People had dropped off bunches of flowers, offered rides into town, and even given her family frozen meals.

“My husband is part of the fire brigade [they’ve said]: ‘Hey, sing out if you need anything'. I couldn’t be in a better place.”

The community board is set to resume its meetings on Monday. She plans to attend “as many meetings as much as possible.”

Peden works one day a week as manager of the Handmade Studio on Colombo St, a charitable trust, which supports people with disabilities, and says the team will juggle resources when she can’t be there.

She has been taking “every day as it comes” and is making sure to get her downtime.

“Simple things like sitting on my back porch with the sun streaming in and having a nice cup of coffee have been just what the doctor ordered.”







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