Avalon: Living the dream in a D11 dozer

Avalon is a Sweet Louise member from a very special part of the country. Avalon is Ngāti Mahuta ki te Hauāuru and lives in Taharoa on the west coast of the North Island, to the southwest of Kawhia, in rural Waikato. Thanks to positive thinking and a job she loves - she knows she's got this!

“My breast cancer was diagnosed in 2014," said Avalon. "They told me at that time that it had already spread and told me I only had a few months to live. My first thought to that was ‘Well, you don’t know me!’

“Around me I’ve got a big extended family, five children and my husband Sam, who always keeps me positive.

"When I was diagnosed my family all said to keep thinking positive. They said - we've got this!”

Avalon remembers a wonderful childhood growing up in Ruatahuna in the Urewera forest. Her Dad was a farm manager and she grew up horse riding and hunting.

“My hobbies now are, first of all, my children, family, and friends. But I’m still an outside person and I love hunting and travelling with family. I took a road trip recently to Wellington with my daughters and husband, and a trip to New Plymouth with my girlfriends.”

Another thing Avalon absolutely loves and lives for is her job.

“I drive the big D11 Caterpillar dozer at the Taharoa iron sands. I must be one of the luckiest people ever – getting to drive massive machines around all day in a giant sandpit! Every day at work is wonderful. I’m living the dream!

Avalon says her tīpuna and karakia have really helped her. She has also tried a lot of healing modalities alongside her chemotherapy, such as mirimiri, rongoā  Māori and vitamin C.

“Karakia has taught me how to listen to my body and to know what my body needs.

“The one time I really cried was when I lost my beautiful long hair. After my first chemotherapy, I had a hair-cutting party with all my family and friends. They cut the hair according to Māori custom – they cut it before the sun went down and then buried it in the garden and planted rose bushes on top. A few other family members shaved their heads as well in support.

“My hair was my crowning glory and at the time it really upset me to lose it. Now I realise it wasn’t that important.”

Avalon is lucky to be surrounded by a group of good friends and whānau and says this helps to keep her positive. She admits to having a bit of an odd sense of humour too – but finds this helps keep her hopeful too, even on the darkest days.

“I haven’t been able to go along to a Sweet Louise member meeting in person as I live in the wopwops! But Sweet Louise is awesome. I love the vouchers and phone calls. And I love reading and hearing about other members in the newsletter.

“I'd say my motto to live by is – YOU’VE GOT THIS!!”