Asoiva McKavanagh

Asoiva never thought it would happen to her

“Bowel cancer is not selective. I thought I was doing everything right.” Asoiva was living a healthy life, so a bowel cancer diagnosis just before Christmas was unexpected. Even with the complications of a Covid lockdown, she had to act fast.

When something just isn’t right

Asoiva was a picture of health. At age 42, she was busy living a healthy and active life with her family in Wellington – she didn’t smoke, didn’t drink alcohol, she ate well and exercised regularly. So, when she noticed blood in her stools, she had a feeling something wasn’t right. “I spoke to my manager at work and she told me to get checked out with my GP. I’m so glad I took her advice.”

Even after her GP visit there seemingly was no cause for concern. She had no family history of cancer and her blood test results were fine. Even with no obvious issues, her GP referred her to a specialist (one of Southern Cross Health Society’s Affiliated Providers).

Coping with a cancer diagnosis

That was over lockdown - it was nerve-wracking in an already difficult time. As New Zealand moved into Level 3 lockdown, Asoiva was able to have a sigmoidoscopy (a procedure that looks at the rectum and lower part of the large intestine). “When I went in for my procedure, it was pretty clear to see that I had a tumour. From there, life changed for me.”

Waiting for her outside the hospital was her husband, John. “We took some time to process the diagnosis together, that was hard. We wanted to be strong for when we told the kids.”

Time was of the essence

With cancer, time is of the essence. That’s where having Southern Cross health insurance made a difference. That week, Asoiva had another CT scan and from there she was booked for surgery. John recalls how it felt: “As soon as Southern Cross got involved, it was the speed of specialists seeing Asoiva and getting the correct diagnosis. It was just amazing, and it really saved Asoiva’s life. It was a matter of two months. If we were two months later, we wouldn’t be talking like we are now.”

Navigating treatment

Asoiva had her surgery at the Southern Cross hospital in Wellington. “I was so nervous. I’d never had surgery or even anaesthetic. Putting your life in someone’s hands, that was hard. But I had the best surgeons, the best care.” Her surgery was a success – the tumour was contained.

She then required chemotherapy. “If I can give anyone in my situation one piece of advice, it would be to take each day as it comes.” That proved to be invaluable advice for the chemo treatment. “At times, I wanted to wish that time away. But you realise you are missing out on days and moments, so I’d rug up warm and we’d go and watch my son play rugby.”

Support when it counts

Southern Cross paid over $46,000 in medical bills for Asoiva. Says John, “We were swept up and taken care of. It built our confidence during a really difficult time. Having a specialist that we believed in, and then having the support of Southern Cross, helped make a horrible thing a thousand times better.”

Asoiva agrees. “Having had Southern Cross go with me on that journey has made it so much easier. You think you’re never going to get through it but you do. You’ve only got one shot at life so make the most of it.”

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*Asoiva has the Wellbeing Two plan with Vision and Dental module from Southern Cross. She is a Southern Cross employee - part of the Southern Cross Pet Insurance team.