Auckland mum whose daughter died in tragic accident learns rare cancer is terminal

An Auckland mother whose eldest daughter died in a tragic driveway accident has learned the rare and aggressive cancer she has is incurable.
Sophia Pereras daughter Valentina Warren died at the age of 3 on November 21, 2014, after being hit by a car in her family's driveway.

Just prior to Aucklands second Covid-19 lockdown in August 2020, the 45-year-old said she started feeling unwell, experiencing severe stomach pains and bloating.

Busy with her 5-year-old daughter Augustina, Perera put her pains aside and carried on with life. When the pain didnt go away, she sought medical care and later found out she had cancer.

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On December 15, 2020, Perera had surgery at Auckland City Hospital in an attempt to remove the tumour.

Complications saw her stay in hospital over Christmas and the New Year, and she was only well enough to go home in the second week of January.

Sophia Perera was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2020, learning months later it was follicular dendritic cell sarcoma a cancer that forms in the soft tissue.

But by mid February, the aggressive cancer had returned, and she was told it was follicular dendritic cell sarcoma a cancer that forms in the soft tissue.

Theres only been about 500 people in the world officially diagnosed with it, Perera said.

Perera started chemotherapy the week after she learned what the cancer was, but it didnt go well.

She will start another round next week and remains positive and hopeful she will respond better to it.

But the chemo wont cure the cancer, it will only prolong her life, Perera said.

Sophia Perera, with husband Cam Warren and daughter Augustina celebrating her 5th birthday.

Thats all I am hoping for at this point, Perera said.

I just want more time because if the chemo doesnt work then I have very, very limited time. But if it does work, I guess we are hoping six to 12 months.

Perera said she wanted to fight as hard as she could to have as much time with Augustina as possible.

She was grateful to have seen her start primary school this year a milestone daughter Valentina never reached.

But it was a mixed blessing because while Augustina had bundles of energy, Perera hadnt been able to keep up with her.

She struggled to even swallow and wasnt able to enjoy food.

Sophia Perera says she will use the time she has left to make memories with her daughter Augustina.

I cant even have a simple pleasure of enjoying a nice meal.

Weve been wrapped around with meals every day, beautiful meals from our community, and I cant even enjoy them. Ive been living off bone broth and soup and soft foods just to sustain me, but it would be nice one day to enjoy a meal again.

Perera said the benefit of doing the next round of chemo was to give her a better quality of life.

So in my last remaining days, I can enjoy and do activities with Augustina, I can do a few little bucket list things, like visit Abel Tasman, do something special with my daughter and make some memories.

Perera reiterated the importance of women listening to their bodies and seeking medical attention if something didnt feel right.

We need to listen to our gut more, Perera said.

Particularly when its not a standard cancer, like bowel or breast. Youve got screening people can pick up on it.

With something so rare, Perera said there were no obvious signs apart from her body tell her something felt wrong.

My big thing is, if you feel something is wrong, even if the first opinion says nothing is wrong, go get a second opinion.

Listen to your own body because you know your own body best.

Perera said she also wanted to thank her husband Cam Warren, who had been with her through each hospital visit and chemotherapy appointment.

A friend of Pereras has set up a Givealittle page to help raise funds for her family as they go through her journey.


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