Labor MP Kiri Allan has been diagnosed with stage three cancer of the uterus. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern answered questions from the media on Tuesday morning.
Labor MP and Conservation Minister Kiri Allan has indicated she has been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“That now begins the battle of my life,” she said in a Facebook post this morning.
“To be honest, I’m one of those guys who has something to do with ‘there’. And have a ‘see no harm, hear no harm’ type approach to that part of my body.”
She said her last pain test was when cervical cancer champion Talei Morrison, just prior to her death, gathered her whānau, her friends, the kapa haka community and finally NZ to campaign for women – and in particular Māori- women – to have their smears tested regularly,
“Talei’s call to check wāhine and whānau was the pressure I needed to get it done.”
Allan said last year, during the election campaign, she saw that she was getting a lot of pain in her back, stomach and legs.
“I put it down to a lot of driving, long hours working and the general stress of campaigns etc. – That, I got my partner to give me some mirimiri and I forgot about it.
“Earlier this year, I realized I found it difficult to sit for a long period of time. Always in a bit of pain. I started running to try to move the lower back area a bit. Nothing seemed to take the pain away.”
College parliament urged her to see a doctor
She said she started menstruating in late January and did not stop. She put it off to go to the doctor, and told herself “that stuff ornate him normally”.
But after four weeks, she said she went for a checkup at the GP, who put her on some medication.
“At about 6 weeks of menstruation without change since visiting the family doctor, I raised it with my colleague and friend Ayesha Verrall, who is a doctor, and asked if the bleeding was a little strange.
“She asked a few more questions and I told her about the pain. She urged me, pleaded with me, ‘Kiri, please, please, please do this please and go to the doctor tomorrow.’
“She made some recommendations and the next day I found myself with an ultrasound.”
That ultrasound, she said, found a growth of 3 cm – she was told it was “probably benign”.
“But the doctor made arrangements for me to go to the hospital in the Women’s Clinic the next day. That day also happened on the day of the tsunamis and earthquakes.”
That day, hospital tests revealed a 6 cm tumor. Allan then immediately returned to the Beehive to front a national television press conference on the latest tsunami warnings.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed this morning that Allan will be taking a leave while undergoing medical treatment.
In the media, Ardern said she found it “remarkable” that Allan NZ was suffering from a civil protection emergency while dealing with her diagnosis.
“If only people knew what else they were dealing with.”
“The next week I got a call that the smears had shown an abnormal result and I had to come in again for a colposcopy,” Allan said.
She went for the procedure a few days later.
“When the doctor did the colposcopy, she noticed that there were abnormal cells and took another biopsy to test. She said the results would take a while, so I did not expect any further news until a few weeks letter. “
A few days later, Allan saw that she had a missed call from her doctor, and asked her to call back.
“I called back, went down the escalator and the sound was cluttered. I shot to a corner to take the call well, in anticipation of good news.
“My kind doctor, who, however, had been so unhappy and called my family’s in the evening, called to say that the colposcopy had revealed that I had cervical cancer.”
Since then, she said, her life has been a whirlwind of MRIs, CT PET scans, and preparing for chemo and radiotherapy, and all other therapy needed.
“The boss, Jacinda, has been a friend, a colleague and my boss through this process. I called her the night I came back to tell her. And her words were deep. I will always have so much respect for the way she deals with dealing with me the past few weeks or so.A text away – always.
“That today she will make an announcement that I will take medical leave from work to focus on the struggle I have for me. She will also appoint acting ministers in my portfolios.”
Allan often said, people’s first question is, “Is there anything I can do?”
“My answer is yes now. Please, please, please – encourage your sisters, your mothers, your daughters, your friends – please #SmearYourMea – it can save your life – and we just need you here.”
‘Destructive News’ – PM
Ardern said she was “well” due to the cancer diagnosis.
“It’s fair to say, as a friend and colleague, I’m hurt by the news – the whole team has.
“But we are also so heartbroken by the character, the person who is Kiri.”
Ardern said Allan from the beginning had “shown a level of determination on her health and well-being, but to finally come back and be a part of the team again”.
Ardern said her focus now was to make sure she looked after herself first and foremost.
“And that we’re here, really, and waiting for her to come back.”
The Prime Minister asked everyone to “look for the warning signs” when it came to cervical cancer.
In an earlier statement, Ardern said: “I consider Kiri not just a colleague but a friend. This news has been devastating. But I also know that Kiri is a person of decisions, and as we have been talking for the past few days I can hear how focus she is on her treatment, and ultimately her return.
“Kiri’s parliamentary family will do everything in their power to support her during her treatment and recovery.
“Until Kiri is able to return to work, I will appoint acting ministers in her portfolios.
“Kris Faafoi will be acting Minister of Emergency Management. He has held the portfolio before, so bringing knowledge and experience with him to the acting role.
Ayesha Verrall will be the Acting Minister of Conservation and Peeni Henare will be the Acting Associate Minister of Arts Culture and Heritage.
“I look forward to welcoming Kiri back into the team and into the cabinet upon her return.”
Ardern said Allan had indicated she would like to return to work in three or four months – Ardern said it would be fine if she was healthy enough.
Allan has asked for privacy because she and her whānau are focusing on their care and recovery.
National leader Judith Collins said Allan was “very brave”.
“It must have been an unimaginably traumatic time for her and the fact that she was dealing with the Civil Defense issue while knowing this was all happening really speaks volumes about her dedication and courage.”
Collins said the diagnosis was a reminder for all women to have a cervical pain test done.
“And it’s also a reminder that this can really hit people everywhere, it’s a very deceptive disease.
“Kiri’s situation is a reminder to every woman to get out there and test it.”
Collins said the parliament was “all consuming” and what little personal time MPs had left went normally to their families.
“It’s not always an easy place to actually take some time to look after yourself.”