Pike families to enter part of mine day before widow’s cancer treatment begins – Stuff.co.nz

Pike River widowAnna Osborne is hoping stem-cell treatment will help herlive long enoughto seeher granddaughter start school.

Osborne, whose husband Milton died in the 2010 Pike River mine disaster, will be one of 30relatives to travel 170 metres into the West Coast mine's access tunnel, or drift, on Thursday.On Friday, she will begin intensive chemotherapy in preparation for a stem-cell transplant.

"IThe thought of standing that close to Milt and of how far we have come will give me strength. I wouldn't miss that for the world," she said.

Osbornewasdiagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2002 when she was 36.

READ MORE:* Pike River re-entry team breaks through into mine drift* New date for Pike River mine drift reopening after failed attempt* Pike River widow 'full of nerves' for mine drift re-entry * Pike River re-entry: Police won't be among first inside mine after risk assessment raised safety concerns* The road to getting back into Pike River

She had radiation for six weeks and went into remission, but the cancercame back just before the Pike River tragedy in November 2010, when 29 men where killed in a series of explosions at the coal mine. Osborne helped campaign for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis while undergoing chemotherapy in 2015.

"It's now got to the stage where my only option is to get stem-cell treatment to get a few more years. The future doesn't look too bright if I don't [go ahead it]," she said.

Pike River mine widow Anna Osborne witnesses the tunnel reentry on May 21, 2019.

Her stem-cells wereharvested and frozenin August. She would go straight to Christchurch for tests after entering the mine drift,then begin six days of intensive chemotherapy on Saturday.

"Within 24 hours of the chemotherapy being finished they will put my stem cells back in and then it will be a wait and see game."

After the stem cell transplant, she would be in isolation in Christchurch for potentially several months.

Osborne said the treatment had its own risks.

"The chemotherapy kills all your good cells and makes you really susceptible to infection. The oncologist has said there's a chance I could die because of it. But with only a month to a year to live without it, I have nothing to lose," she said.

If the treatment is a success, she could live for maybe another five years, she said.


Pike River mine families at the mine portal.

She wanted to see her 2-year-old granddaughter'sfirst day at school, and see the Pike River re-entry completed with the hope of new evidence being found to bring those responsible for the disaster to justice.

"I'm going to really fight. I have confidence and trust in my oncology team. I haven't got time to die I have too much unfinished business," she said.

It had been a "long, long journey" of protesting against plans to permanently seal the mine.

The National Government had refusedto enter the mine, citing safety concerns.

"We have fought hard for truth and justice and it is almost here. That's something we need to thank all of New Zealand for without that support, our men and the evidence that could get them justice would have been locked away forever."

Osborne said she had previously been up to the 30m seal inside the mine's drift.

"It was a small distance but it was very emotional. Behind the seals entombs our men ... Going right up to the 170m seal is another milestone in getting closer to where we want to go."

Pike River Recovery Agency

The Pike River mine reopened for the first time on May 21, 2019, after an explosion in November 2010 killed 29 men.

The journey to the 170m sealthe furthest point anyone has been into the drift since 2011 will be the last chance for families to enter the area before full recovery of the 2.3-kilometre tunnel begins.

The Pike River Recovery Agency has been given a $36 million budget to recover the drift.

Pike River mum Sonya Rockhouse, whose son Ben died in the mine and other son Daniel survived the blast,said entering the drift wouldbe emotional.

"This will be the closest most of us will have been to our loved ones since that awful day in 2010.

"I don't know how I'm going to feel when I'm there. Right now I'm nervous about it but also proud that Anna and I have been able to help the families get this far."

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Pike families to enter part of mine day before widow's cancer treatment begins - Stuff.co.nz

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