Losing a loved one is never easy. A rollercoaster of emotions hits all family members and dealing with psychological stress is no easy feat. Salabogi Mavoa, a senior academic at Fiji National University (FNU) lost his wife, Akisi to breast cancer last month. 

Mavoa, who is the Project Director at FNU’s College of Vocational Education and Training (CVET) said they were informed his late wife was diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer in 2017.

Immediately, Mavoa said he extended from being his wife’s protector and caregiver to becoming the biggest supporter in her fight against cancer.

The late Mrs Mavoa was the Manager for Department of Community based non-formal education at the FNU’s National Training and Productivity Centre (NTPC). 

“It was three years ago when one day my wife mentioned that she could feel a lump in her breast. A few months later she went for a biopsy and officially diagnosed with early stages of breast cancer,” recollected Mavoa. 

“Initially she was not ready for surgery and I could not force her to do anything. I assured her that I will support all of her decisions.” 

In 2020 his late wife finally agreed to go under the knife and a few weeks after the medical procedure, she had even recovered and reported back to work, according to Mavoa. 

“There was a beacon of hope that she is finally well. But things did not turn the way we wished. We lost her a few months later, on September 7, 2020. What I understand is she may have been going through pain but she was not mentioning it to anyone in the family,” an emotional Mavoa stated. 

The family is still mourning the loss of his late wife. “My children were very close to their mother and I can’t imagine the void that has been left behind. Just yesterday, my younger son mentioned how badly he missed his mother.

There is a feeling of helplessness but as a father, I know that I need to motivate them and reassure that things will get better as we have to continue to move forward in life.” 

“I try and keep myself busy with my work because I am aware if I will dwell in the memories, it is going to hold me back. I have many Christian friends and my family members with whom I fellowship. 

Their prayers and support has been a real blessing for us right during this time,” he highlighted. Losing a life-partner of 17 years, Mavoa said her emptiness will always be felt. While he has accepted the fact, that she is physically no longer with him, the CVET Project Director is encouraging the male colleagues at FNU to reach out to him, if they are going through a similar situation. 

“If your wife is battling breast cancer, she is a warrior. It takes a lot of courage to deal with the massive pain and I urge every man to stand strong with their wives in this toughest journey of life.” 

Mavoa said losing his soul mate and best friend is not easy. Hope, faith and prayers are guiding him and his family and also has given him the courage to speak on an issue which for many years remained sensitive in society. 

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