Monday, July 30, 2007

Hollywood News...... and the power of the internet!

You’ll be pleased to know that Lindsay, Paris or Britney don’t feature anywhere else in this news item. There’s also no gossip about who is doing stuff they’re shouldn’t be doing in Hollywood and definitely no references to NZ Hollywood i.e. Shortland Street.

Instead this story focuses on a far more important and unheralded side of the celebrity world.

Many of you may not recognise the name George Gaynes but if you’ve watched Police Academy (where he played the role of Commissioner Lassard ) , Tootsie, The Way we Were, Nickelodeon, Just Married and a host of other television and movie appearances then you will have met him.

A fortnight ago Mr Gaynes learnt about our humble fundraising blog. He was moved by Maara’s story so he sent $300 to help.

If you Google, George Gaynes, it will tell you everything about his achievements but it wont tell you that he has helped a complete stranger named Maara Toleafoa and her family.

I sent a message of thanks to him not really expecting a reply. This morning I opened my email to find that he had graciously responded by saying,

“Dear Junior, the contribution we made is only a drop in the bucket, and you are welcome to it. I hope your drive is successful, and that there will be hundreds of drops. My best wishes to Maara and to you. Yours truly, George.”

Thank you George. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Cake Raffle Winner....

The winner of the second cake raffle is....

P.Heath from Grey Lynn

Thank you to everyone who supported the raffle :o)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Junior's Journal 28/07/07

Here’s the latest offering of news from the past week.

Maara has been doing surprisingly well after the first round of chemo. They say the first one is the least intrusive and so far that has been the case. The next session happens on the 10 August (Maara’s birthday) and I guess that’s when things will potentially be different.

As you can see, her new look hairstyle accentuates her beauty and I think she’s enjoying the attention. On the other hand, I have noted that hits on the blog have dramatically increased since my picture was removed. I’m sure there is no correlation.

This week we saw the Police dog handlers bare their craniums and raise a truckload of sponsorship. A fantastic effort by Chris Harris and his team.

A family friend of many years blew us away with an extremely generous $5000 contribution. We have been unable to contact him since last weekend and ask his permission to publicly thank him, his wife and family via the blog. Perhaps he will let us name him later.

Colleagues in the Cashiering Department at my work raised $2000 through cake stalls. Some of those people I very rarely see because of their shiftwork hours. I’m so grateful to all of them for supporting Maara and me.

Tickets went on sale for the movie night and they are being snapped up. Thank you to everyone supporting that fundraiser.

We have an interesting story about a Rangiora -style raffle organised by my wonderful friend Claudine and her family. Everything about this raffle seems relatively normal until you get to the part about Claudine managing to sell tickets to willing buyers long before she or they knew any details about the prize. Even now I’m trying to imagine how the conversations sounded in those first few transactions. Hmmm…I remain puzzled. Anyway, they managed to raise a much appreciated $500. The lucky winner walked away with a very complete wine and dinner package. Superb support from friends in Rangiora !!! Thank you very much!!!

In between all the above events there has been an enormous amount of love and support relentlessly being channelled our way. There’s a huge amount of thank you notes and words to be passed on and I aim to see that those are completed.

In the meantime, please know that Maara, Lahaina, Stuey and I are feeling very humbled and blessed by all of the support. Thank you.

Alofa tele


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Auckland Police Dog Section shaves a hefty amount off the target!!!!

Sunday 22 July 2007 and it’s a wintry but sunny afternoon at the Auckland Police Dog Section base. About 16 Police Officers from the Auckland Police Dog Section plus one brave six year old, Jakob Harris, decided to ignore the winter chills and shave their heads to raise money for Maara.

For the past few weeks the team have been drumming up sponsorship through family and friends all in the name of Maara’s herceptin treatment. Jakob managed to raise $250. That’s a fabulous effort!!!

Interestingly, after learning a little bit about chemotherapy and its side effects, Jakob was even more motivated to shave his head because by doing so it would show Maara that she didn’t need to be afraid. Bless him!!

As the first pair of clippers powered up, eager volunteers raced to surrender their hair, wanting the experience to be over quickly. A crowd of onlookers cheered the volunteers on with laughter and healthy heckling. Everyone enjoying the scary yet funny transformations unfold. Even though there was a suggestion that for some the change was not so big. (No names of course…Temps, Pikey, Tony and Clint).

The afternoon continued with a BBQ and the standard “few quiet ales” before Senior Constable Chris Harris called the group to order and announced that the total amount raised was an amazing $5,780!

Initially, when Chris organised the event he thought maybe $600 was a realistic target. He had no idea it would far exceed that amount.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this fundraiser, especially those who gave up their hair for the cause. Special thanks to Sean from Highway Stabilisers who donated $1,000 and personally took Billy’s sponsorship form around to the Highway Stabiliser employees.

Maara was not present at the event but is aware of the unbelievable amount raised. She is extremely grateful and would like to thank everyone who sacrificed their hair, time, money and baking to help out.

Well done Chris and the Auckland Police Dog Section!!!!!

To view pictures of the day go to

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Significant Day for Maara & Junior

Chemotherapy & Herceptin starts today....

Wow!!! From a standing start to almost $29,000 in 28 days. What incredible generosity people have shown Maara and me.

Yesterday I sent an email to colleague expressing my deep appreciation for a fundraising initiative that he and his team had organised in their office. They all wore mufti to work last Friday and for the privilege they donated money towards Maara’s herceptin treatment.

A few weeks ago Bill and Jo, donated $5000 to help with the fundraising. They have both known Maara for over 20 years and desperately wanted to do something to help. Bill keeps in contact with Maara almost on a daily basis to make sure she is okay and to talk about fundraising. Amazing!!!

Viv and Jane have treated us to some great lasagne in those times when some of our everyday fundamentals, like cooking, fell away. This is such a great demonstration of the thoughtfulness we have been exposed to by people.

Members of our church visited us last week armed with wonderful prayers and some of our favourite praise and worship songs. They overstocked our pantry with groceries and quietly handed over an envelope of money. We shared some laughs, discussed my poor attendance and as humbly as they had arrived, they blessed us and said goodbye.

The Cake Maker will be swimming in icing for the next twelve months because news of her fabulous masterpieces has spread faster than a decent rumour. For all, the work that will go into creating the cakes , the Cake Maker reminds me that it amounts to “nought” when you consider what Maara and others with cancer have to endure.

Help has come to us in so many different ways since the blog was published. People have not held back with their generosity. I recall telling someone recently that I feel so undeserving of the kindness and attention that has been shown. Maara and I are not Victoria Cross winners nor are we Nobel Prize recipients and we certainly don’t have a clue about solutions for achieving world peace. Yet friends, family and complete strangers have continued to support us. For me the greatest gift out of this whole experience is the knowledge that people appreciate and value Maara and me. That’s priceless.

Friday 20 July 2007 is a significant day for Maara because she begins chemotherapy at Auckland City Hospital. We are excited because we know chemotherapy is a great weapon against a formidable foe. There’s also apprehension because chemotherapy is like weeding a beautiful flower garden with a bulldozer. As I write this, Maara is busy reading Lance Armstrong’s book about his experience with cancer. I think she will find his story uplifting and that’s not a bad way to be on the eve of your first chemotherapy treatment.

Finally, thanks again everyone for the kind thoughts, prayers and monetary gifts. I will do my best to report back about Maara’s progress.

Tofa soifua,

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Auckland Police Dog Section's "Shave Off"

This is six year old Jakob. When he learnt that his Dad was involved in a fundraising "Shave off" he volunteered to shave off his own beautiful head of hair.

Since then he has signed up about 8 sponsors all who have pledged $10 each. His target is 10 in total so he's still working away.

Speak to Jakob and he will tell you in his own uncompromising way " I'm shaving my hair "bold" (he means bald) not just short. I want to help Maara"

In two weeks time expect to see a different looking Jakob appearing on a blog near you. What a fantastic contribution from such a sweet boy!!!
(if you would like to become a sponsor for Jakob please email

Jakob will join a team of volunteers from the Auckland Police Dog Section who will be shaving their heads on Sunday 22nd July to raise funds for Maara.

Thanks guys!!!!!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Just Amazing!!!!!

I have the job of updating the blog everyday. How fabulous it was today to be able to post the new figure of $15,728!!!! What an achievement after only four short days. The support arriving locally and from around the world is phenomenal!

If we continue at this rate we will reach our target well within in our predicted timeframe and Maara’s Herceptin treatment will be a reality!!

I’m hearing that an assortment of fundraising initiatives are happening in companies, departments, groups, families. People who have been touched by Maara’s story and are rallying to help. Many of these people have had their own lives touched in some way by the Toleafoa Family and this is their way of showing gratitude.

It would be great for all of us to hear about what you or your groups are doing to support Maara. So please feel free to forward any stories to me for publishing on the blog.

The Cake Maker

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

An Update from JT & Maara

Three days ago we started this blog in the hope that it would motivate people to support Maara. It has been achieving that goal at an incredibly rapid pace. The news is spreading faster than we had ever anticipated. As a consequence, on an hourly basis we are going through the full range of emotional experiences. All of this is leaving us wondering how we will ever adequately repay the kindness we have been shown.

People from all over the world are responding to our need. Some of these people have no idea who we are, yet, they have been moved to help us through this. A woman in America who has admired Kathryn’s cakes through various forums has purchased a load of raffle tickets. She’s very determined to acquire a Kathryn cake. That is so cool. Lorraine McKay a celebrated cake maker from Scotland has pledged her support for our campaign. Lorraine was introduced to us by Kathryn sometime ago. We have never personally met her but through the internet we have enjoyed learning how to laugh about things. Now she has come to support us in a challenging time. How neat!

Work colleagues past and present are learning the news about Maara and hastily offering their support. That support is arriving in all shapes and sizes, kind thoughts, advice, ideas, prayers, offers of childcare, home cooking, humour , fundraising events, you name it we have received it.

We want to thank you all personally because that is important to us but logistically it will take time. We hope to get around to that at some point.
How wonderful it is, that this heartfelt generosity is alive and well despite this being a time when world security is under threat and the news of the day is dominated by catastrophes.
That’s it for now. Rest assured that behind the scenes there is so much good stuff happening.

We will keep you updated about everything.

Thanks so much,
Maara and Junior T

Cafe Free Friday - 6th July

I challenge all you 'caffeine loving cafe goers' to forgo your visit this Friday the 6th of July and donate $5 to "Maara's Herceptin fund"..... register here (by leaving your name and pledge in the comments box) and be in to win a chocolate cake from the "Cake Maker".

If we all give a little it will soon add up to a LOT!!!!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Bryce Takes The Cake!

I arrived at work today with a Chocolate Mud cake in one hand and a book of raffle tickets in the other. The prize was a designer cake of the winners choice and the tickets were $5 each. Emails were sent around work with the blog link and the info about the raffle... with the added incentive for the person who bought the most tickets getting to take the chocolate mud cake home.

Sifa Taumoepeau thought he had the cake in the bag with his (generous) purchase of 10 tickets until he was pipped at the post by Bryce Morrin who doubled the amount with a whopping 20 tickets!!!! Way to go Bryce.

There are only a few tickets left in this particular draw.... we will announce the winner in the next day or so. Thank you to all the wonderful staff at SKYCITY who have contributed to Maara's Herceptin Fund ... From the Cake Maker :)

A Message from Junior & Maara Toleafoa

A few weeks ago Maara and I were focussing on a new career move for her. It was a big deal because it involved leaving a job of 20 years to start afresh with a newly formed travel agency.

As this was happening a friend of friend, Tracey, was taking advantage of a free mammogram. This was something Maara knew she should also do but for now it carried about as much importance as a warrant of fitness for your car. Within days we learnt Tracey’s mammogram results had detected a cancer and immediate surgery was required. Although we were not close friends of Tracey’s at that time, we felt our hearts go out to her. We knew the situation was serious for Tracey and her family. Suddenly the necessity for a mammogram assumed its rightful place of importance in our lives. Maara made the appointment and from here breast cancer formally became part of us. Our weeks of toil over her new job opportunity seemed like such an insignificance. In fact a number of our priorities were redirected to the recycle bin.

From what I can see Maara chooses to be annoyed about having the “inconvenience” of an illness rather than being consumed by the more extreme negatives attached to cancer. There’s no blame levelled at anyone or anything and definitely no self pity. She’s motivated to keep her life as close to normal as possible and this is her way of doing that. With the mastectomy done, the next few months of treatment are simply an extension of that “inconvenience” and something to be endured if you want to beat cancer. I’m not sure if faced with an aggressive disease like this, if I would have the same courage and fight in me. I watched Maara sleeping the other day and wondered why she was dealt this hand. Anyone who has had contact with her knows what I mean. She has such a beautiful and faithful spirit that people warm to her so easily. She’s a loving wife and a fabulous mum. With the help of God, friends, family and a team of medical experts we see the odds of taming our unwelcomed visitor as heavily stacked in our favour.

Already we have experienced overwhelming kindness and comfort from people who know our plight. I’m not quite sure how I will ever repay them. Tracey Richardson is one of those people. I referred to her earlier in my story. She has played such a key role in our lives of late and probably doesn’t fully appreciate that fact. If it wasn’t for her we probably would have elected to get the warrant of fitness instead of the mammogram. If it wasn’t for her, Maara would not have been so mentally well prepared for the invasive treatment. If it wasn’t for her significant monetary support (Tracey has purchased 3 "Cancer Cakes" for $1,000), Herceptin treatment for Maara would not be such a reality. Tracey is confronting challenges with her own cancer but she has decided not to let that hamper her from helping others struggling with the disease. To you Tracey we say thank you and pray that the pending chemo treatment goes well.

Another person who needs to be mentioned is my dear friend Kathryn Harris. She will not want this type of acknowledgement but I’m beyond caring about her reluctance to accepting thanks. We are so grateful to Kathryn for so many things. When our lives were upturned with this news she was determined to ensure that we didn’t fully capsize. Kathryn has been an immense support through both practical means and good old chats. She has been a stabilising factor in a time of true chaos. The wonderful cakes she has created will be on offer for sale with the proceeds going directly to fund Maara’s Herceptin programme. This is only a fraction of what she has planned in order to help us through this ordeal. What a remarkable person she is. There will never be enough words in any language to thank her for her commitment to us.

Our children, Lahaina and Stuey, have been dealing with this situation in different ways. Lahaina, outwardly the cool customer, but inwardly deeply concerned. Every night Stuey petitions God to remove the cancer disease from his mum. He says that prayer with such faith and conviction that I believe God will not ignore him.

It is a journey we are experiencing (please pardon the cliché). Along the way there will be some difficult parts to negotiate and we will confront them as they happen. We expect there will be people we will come across who will sustain through us the different stages and we thank them in advance. We are confident the journey has a positive end.

It's a big target but with your help we can do this.....

Welcome to the "Support Maara" Blog. This blog has been set up as an aid to help raise the $65,000 (New Zealand Dollars) needed to fund a 12 month course of the drug Herceptin. Please keep checking back regularly to this site to offer support, ideas, prayers.... and most importantly $$$$$$.

Over the next three months we will be running several charity actions, events, raffles in an aim to achieve the $65,000 to fund Maara's treatment. Please feel free to send your friends and family this link so they too can offer support.

Along with the many events we will be organising you can at anytime make a donation at the ASB Bank using the following bank account number:


International & Credit Card donations can be made by using Paypal and using the email address to send funds.

Thank you so much for your support

Cakes for Cancer

Need a cake for special occasion??? You won't find cakes like this in the bakery section of your local foodtown!!! Birthday, leaving party, retirement, engagement.... a unique cake will be designed just for you!

Novelty Cake Raffle: 100 tickets per cake (that's great odds!) $5 per ticket. The winner of each raffle will win a cake (theme/style of your choice on an agreed date).....

To purchase a raffle ticket please email (use cake raffle in the subject line). 100% of the proceeds will be going to the Support Maara fund... (all cake ingredients, boards, ribbons, labour etc are being donated by the "cakemaker").

Generosity from across the world!!!

Jane Knoll from Canada made this beautiful Hatbox cake for a customer on Saturday and after reading the plight of Junior & Maara has donated the proceeds to Maara's Herceptin fund. Jane is a friend of the "cake maker" and doesn't even know Junior or Maara.... we thank Jane for her generosity and kindness... $100 has now been added to the fund:)

13yr old girl pledges pocket money - News at Ten....

13 year old West Auckland school girl Mikayla Hall has donated her pocket money to the fund.... $20 has now been added.

Way to go Mikayla :)