When Leukaemia threatened to cut Paul’s life short, he was faced with a decision of who he would lean on. Accepting an invitation to church, he was reminded that with God there is always hope.
Growing up in a Samoan family, we obviously went to Samoan church. Mum and dad would take us every Sunday. We would go to Sunday school. And I had a lot of great memories growing up in that Samoan church. But we kind of drifted away. I guess throughout the years we ended up losing sight of church. It got to a time where I, I kind of lost my way with the Lord in doing my own things. Then leading into the teenage years just following what my brothers did. Leading up to 2011 towards the end of the year I made up my mind to go to Australia and just to try start something new. Try to figure out things for myself. And in that time that I was just about to leave, I was actually sick; I was getting sick.
Doctors would see me twice in a week and we would try to figure out what was wrong with me. For the first two times that I went and saw him in that first week, he actually thought it was tonsillitis. That it was just something that was infecting my throat, cause I had really bad lumps in my throat and all. But it wasn’t until the third week that I went back. I was complaining that I still wasn’t getting better with the antibiotics and stuff that he was giving me and then we finally did blood tests. It was from there that we found out that it was actually leukaemia cancer that was actually growing inside of me. I can still remember it to this day that my family came around my bedside and it wasn’t until I saw them crying on my bedside that I knew that it was that serious. That I could go the other way.
It definitely opened my eyes to how life can change in an instant. So after my three cycles of chemo, there was one time where I actually reacted to a certain chemo. It actually gave me a stroke and I was paralysed completely on one side. I couldn’t speak and I just couldn’t move. My whole right side was just paralysed. I couldn’t really move and that led to the doctors having to adjust things. I couldn’t have that sort of treatment anymore and then we came up with the option of having a stem cell transplant with a sibling. It happened to be the second oldest brother of mine. So he was a match for me. A lot of my friends were having 21st birthdays and there were a lot of weddings that were happening that year. I just couldn’t make it to them and it just kind of made my mind, depressed even more. Like, I want to live. I want to live life but I can’t and here I am, weak. And it just made it so hard for me to try and live life again. So my brother invited me to come back to church. Just having that sense of God around me made me just see the bright side of it again. It made me feel like there’s more to life than just sort of beating myself up for having cancer. And I guess the main thing that I also learnt from this journey would be, my plans will not be the same as God’s plans. And so here I was growing up thinking that I’ll have my own way of life but not knowing that God had already written chapters in my life. And so I believe that this was a chapter that God has put me through. It’s been about 3 years now since I have been in remission since the transplant. It won’t be for another 2 years till I get the all clear. I’ve kind of wanted to give back to the young generation and change their perspective on life you know. My best advice is just to stay positive and just know that there is hope.