Celebrating this Christmas

Celebrating this Christmas 2000 1332 The Flyer Magazine

Holiday Feature


The two Julianas

It’s been a very tough few years for two beautiful ex-pat Brazilian breast cancer survivors from Queenstown, who fought and won in spite of huge upheavals in their personal lives.

Life is now good for both women who’re extremely grateful for the incredible local support they received from the Wakatipu community and the regional branch of the Cancer Society.

The two Julianas

The two Julianas – Juliana Moore (left) and Juliana Costa Fernandes, healthy and back enjoying life in Queenstown.

Juliana Moore, 36, who lives locally with her Scottish husband, Peter Moore, was diagnosed in 2016 just days before she left on her honeymoon to Scotland, a few months after she and Peter were married. She discovered a lump on her breast and insisted on having medical checks before they left. Fortunately she did. Surgery was booked immediately and during the tests Juliana discovered she was three weeks pregnant. She had to wait until she was three months pregnant to have chemotherapy treatment by which time she’d had emergency surgery to remove her breast. She’s now fit and well and been back at work with Biosecurity NZ MPI at Queenstown Airport for some time.

It was a traumatic time but fully healthy little Mia Moore, who turns three on December 20, was a much welcomed Christmas present that year. “I waited until I’d breastfed her for the first six months then I did another year of chemotherapy and I’ve now been given the all clear,” says a very grateful Juliana, who underwent reconstructive surgery in June this year.

“There was no history of any cancer in my family and my mum has my niece and nephew in her care back in Brazil so in the beginning I had nobody to help and support me,” says Juliana.

“The Cancer Society and local community were amazing with volunteer Mary May coming to my home with food to support me and answer questions about what was ahead.”

Peter also works at the airport and their workmates donated money from their social club to buy Juliana a wig, as well as money to support them while they were unable to work. “Our landlords also didn’t charge for electricity for a whole year,” she says. “The support from the Cancer Society was essential, especially for us as they were the only ones we had to help us. It’s so amazing, the work they do. I’ve always supported it, but now it has a different meaning and I really spread the word to others.”

Two happy families – from left, Peter and Juliana Moore with little Mia, and Juliana Costa Fernandes with husband Armindo Machado Junior.

For Juliana Costa Fernandes, 38, who was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer two days before her wedding in February last year (2018), it’s also been an incredibly rough ride. For Juliana and husband, Armindo Machado Junior, who’s lived locally since 2004, Queenstown is home, so it was another blow for Juliana, after surviving breast cancer, to then have to return to Brazil temporarily because of work visa issues. Unfortunately Armindo has been unable to sponsor his wife for a partnership visa for several more years yet, until the timeframe for a previous sponsorship expires. Thankfully, Juliana didn’t give up and a petition she organised gathered 10,000 signatures. She also gained the support of local MP Hamish Walker, who lodged an appeal to the Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi, and District Mayor Jim Boult also offered his support. In spite of her health battles, Juliana personally collected 600 of her petition signatures during the local Cancer Society Relay For Life. Kris Faafoi was able to grant her a further two-year visa until the couple can apply for a partnership visa, then residency. She was able to return home to Queenstown in August and now, with a health clearance, is working in her “dream job” as a wine tour guide for Appellation Wine Tours.

“The support and love I received here was vital to my recovery, especially as this isn’t my hometown and English is not my first language,” says Juliana.

“We’ve had the best support from the community, and treatment,” she says. “We knew nothing as there was no history of cancer in my family either. The Cancer Society team became like my extended family and offered such peace and comfort,” she says. “Doctors and nurses explained everything and friends would drop by with food and flowers to make me happy every day. It was amazing.”

Juliana, an accomplished singer and performer, was so grateful that she organised a ‘Gratitude Music Festival’ charity fundraiser locally which attracted 250 people and raised $3600 for the Cancer Society. She’s already planning another Gratitude Festival for early next year (2020).

Juliana and Armindo’s dream now is to still have a family and she’s awaiting treatment to assist that. “I’ve learnt there’s hope and you are always stronger than you know,” she says.

Otago Southland Cancer Society manager supportive care services Marie Wales says the society has 30 or 40 cancer patients on its books in Queenstown alone. “With so much population growth and so many overseas workers living locally, it’s affecting a lot of our youth in their 20’s and 30’s,” says Marie. “We need as many resources and as much help as possible,” she says. “However, with early detection and treatment most of these people are doing really well.”

“Sometimes it’s just the little gestures that cheer people up and make such a difference, like small gifts or treat vouchers or dropping food off,” says Marie. “Anything is treasured.”

To help, contact Marie on:
Ph: 0275360066, email: [email protected] or drop any gifts to the CanShop in Remarkables Park.