Zariah's Journey

Today I am going to do something I don't normally do. I'm going to lay it all bare...

Growing up I lived in Wainuiomata, a small close knit community, where not everyone had money, but almost everyone had happiness in their lives, the kind of happiness that comes from finding joys in the small things.

Before I started High School my family moved away so that I could go to a highly rated girls' school, a school where affluence meant influence, a school that taught me that popularity often came as a result of having the things that money can buy.

Over the years I have been trying hard to undo that school of thought, to teach myself that money really can't buy happiness and this week the world I knew as a child has landed on my doorstep, and taught me, beyond anything else, that the world is not about money, the world is about family, love and good health.

Let me explain....

Growing up I had a best friend Jacinda, I spent a lot of time with her and her family, I remember the sleep overs, the water fights and the crazy bike rides around the neighbourhood. One of my first ever crushes was on her brother Joshua and his best mate Jeremy, can't believe I just admitted that!! Anyways... Jacinda's family were close, they had to be, five kids and two adults squeezed into a three bedroom house, you'd be close too!

The family has remained tight over the years, and thanks to the advent of Facebook, I have been able to keep in touch with Jacinda and her family despite now living in different cities (and at times different countries).

Last Sunday I received an email from Jacinda's Mum that made me cry, Jacinda's youngest daughter Zariah (she's three) had been diagnosed with Leukaemia and was flying to Christchurch for treatment.

Christchurch hospital is one of the few in New Zealand to offer treatment to young cancer patients, but Christchurch hospital is undergoing repairs at the moment as a result of the massive earthquakes that have been striking here recently. They have been put in a ward with one shower and toilet for everyone, with no televisions in the rooms while the ward they should be in gets repaired.

This means for the next couple of months Jacinda (who is almost five months pregnant) will be separated from her eldest daughter, her extended family and at times her husband Leon, while Zariah is undergoing her treatment. In a city where she knows next to no one.

My heart is simply breaking for the family, all week I've been considering 'How can I help?', and I am no closer now, then I was at the beginning of the week. I know that they don't need the superficial things that I hold near and dear (unless someone out there knows of a company who could sponsor hubby to commute between the two cities for weekends) what they need is emotional support. 

So here I am, asking YOU my fans, my followers. Can you help too? Can you offer a message of support? Can you suggest any great websites? Do you know of any great products, for example, what would you suggest to ease the dryness that you get in your mouth during chemo treatment?

I'd really like to get as many comments on this post as possible to pass on to the family.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Leon's work has come to the party and he will now be staying in Christchurch for the duration of treatment. My family has decided to get Zariah a Pumpkin Patch teddy and will be giving her a new outfit for it, every week while she is here in Christchurch. To date we have 11 comments and Jacinda and Leon are grateful for all of the support, I have now decided to make it my goal to get 100 comments of support on this blog post.

I have been advised that the previous version of this post, was a little harsh in its' reflection of my emotion about Wainuiomata, I was simply trying to say, that I was embarrassed of the stereotype that girls' at the 'rich' school gave when I told them where I was from. I apologise if these comments offended anyone and I thank my family for being able to be honest with me!


LittleBigCompany said...

Hazel, can you email me your address on, I would like to put together a care package and send it to you to give to her

Miriam said...

Hi - I'm another chch blogger and I'd love to add you to my Chch bloggers list but more than that I'd love to help. Are you aware that chns DVDs are free for a week from the Chch libraries? If you are going back and forth I'd also be more than happy to lend you some of my boys ones and do you some home baking to take up. I'm no expert on making toy clothes but I could certainly have a try... if you'd like to connect please email me on makeitgiveit(at)gmail(dot)com we live in Beckenham - not sure if that would work for you or I could perhaps drop them somewhere..... Miriam

Jo said...

Hi Hazel,

I have just read your story and I am so sorry to hear about your friends child...I have shared your link on my page to get more supportive messages through, and as I have 3,500 likers there are some incredible people on there that have links to all sorts of ideas...xx
Jo - from Little Pink Tea Party

SebbyZac said...

Hi Hazel,

Laughter can at times make you forget, for just a moment, what a tough time you’re going through and one book I would really recommend is Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Annie Lamott -- it’s a frank and hilarious account of one women’s first year with her son; I would also recommend When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner, they may both be available on audio -- I wish your friend and her family the best and please keep us updated said...

I found you on LIL Blue Boo,
My friend Becky's daughter Caitlyn 6 has just been diagnosed also with Leukemia her in
California she has just completed her first round of chemo and her hair is just now starting to fall out.
We are collecting cute hats . . I do art with her and she has loved all the crafts others come and do. Maybe Zariah would like story books being read to her. Let me know her address and I will send a favorite! Anne

Anonymous said...

Please let Zariah and her family know that I am thinking of them and sending all the well wishes and courage I can muster! There is no doubt that these will be challenging times, but it is truly amazing what the love of a family can do, and so wonderful when a community comes together to give their support. If there is anything I can do from Australia to help, please let me know.

Lots of love,

Tara (Cupcakes By Tara)

ButtonMad said...

That is so tough...sending her a prayer from south africa ...and wishing them strength through the months ahead ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel, that's very sad for Zariah & her family, hope all goes well for them. I've become friends recently on Fb with Tabitha from Pillowcases For Oncology Kids, maybe get in touch with her & her family & they might have some treatment tips for Zariah. Tabitha has set up this Fb page fr donations of pillowcases that she gives to kids with cancer, maybe we can send one to Zariah. Please send my heartfelt wishes to Jacinda, Zariah & her family xoxo Ann-Marie

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to that little girl!

Anonymous said...

Hazel this is realy lovely what you are doing for Cinda and Zariah. I too have gorwn up with them all as well. I have also been thinking of ways to help them. If there is anything I can help with Please let me know. I've been thinking of seeing if I can sell things and raise money to help them out with Hubby being able to get down there at weekends.

Regards Cathy :)

Anonymous said...

Just a thought, If the main priority is to keep getting Leon down there, maybe a fundraiser or something of the sorts to raise funds to buy them tickets to keep flying him down or something?

Hazel you definitely have a way with words, ive seen the posts that Jacinda has been making and been wondering what was going on, but didnt want to pry. This made me nearly cry. (I didnt because the kids are in the room) Such a wee darling Zariah is. I hope something can be done for them.

Anonymous said...

That is the best news I've had all week :) So happy that Leon is able to stay down there. Good on his work for helping out. Sending all our love down to you guys. Love you all. From Cathy and Alexis

Joey Thomas said...

Wow your friend is very lucky to have you. What a beautiful thing you are doing and what a tough situation to have to deal with.

I'm stoked to hear that her husband can now be in Christchurch with Jacinda and Zariah. That's fantastic news. Is there some support groups in the area that she can become part of? Speaking with other people that are going through the same thing would probably we one of the healthiest things she can do.

All the best. I love that you have a big enough heart to go to all this effort for your friend. My best wishes go out to both of you!

All the best xx

Joey (Duckprint)

Anonymous said...

What lovely words........I too have known Cinda for a number of years and she is a very dear friend to me. Leon and Cinda are amazing parents and Zariah is a little princess, it is very sad to hear this has happened to a family that is so loving and caring. Im very pleased to hear that they both have so much support. It touches my heart to see that people have left messages on here that are from completely different countries and are offering beautiful words and thoughts.

Sending you lots of love and hugs


Anonymous said...

Oh wow - there are never enough words to say the right thing when an innocent baby is afflicted with a horrible disease. Cinda has been a part of our family for years - ever present in my youngest daughters teenage life and now as great Mums to their own kids. Please let her know we pray for her and her family and are only a phone call or facebook page away if ever she should need us. Keep up the good work Hazel - this is amazing stuff.

Hugs and kisses


The Two Little Princes said...

Hi Hazel,
I wish this family all the very best - it is a horrendous time for any family, even more so when the recipient of life saving chemotherapy is a small child like Zariah. My Dad was from Christchurch as are my family and my Dad passed away from cancer a few months ago and this last weekend my family there scattered his ashes at Rakaia Gorge so he could always watch over family across the Canterbury Plains. In addition, I have a very very dear friend also undertaking chemotherapy in Christchurch and who in fact is undergoing radical stem cell treatment in two weeks. Christchurch and NZ holds a special place in my heart. How can I help? I am happy to help with a voucher donation to my store ( or to support an online auction here should you choose to undertake one. If there is anything else I can do - especially if you set up an Everyday Heroes or similar account for her - then let me know so I can pop the link on my website too. I truly hope that Zariah comes through the other side of this terrible ordeal well and ready to continue her life with as much energy and imagination that a three year old should. Cheers Nicole

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel

your heartfelt words have brought me to tears, my youngest is 3yrs old and I couldn't imagine going through this.

My heart goes out to Zariah and her family and I really wish I could make things better, the best I can do is pray for Zariah and send this big vitual hug xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

lots of love and caring vibes
from Kim (kims craft cave)

Hazel Schreiner said...

Such great advice, laughter really is the best medicine! Thank you so much for your kind words!

:) Hazel

CraftyFox said...

I'm a Chch blogger too and if there is anything I can do I would be happy to help, maybe we could take her our for lunch/coffee one day and help get her connected. You could also contact Canteen, they may have some contacts that could help or some support that could be given. You can contact me at amyliz80(at) hotmail (dot) com

Hazel Schreiner said...

Thank you so much Anne for such lovely words, and such great advice for keeping Zariah occcupied. The address at the hospital is as follows:

Zariah Kahui-Riddler
Choc GAU 2nd floor
Christchurch Womens Hospital
2 Riccarton Avenue
Christchurch City
New Zealand

:) Hazel

Jamie said...

We are new to Christchurch, but are getting to know the area. If there is anything we can do, please let me know! I echo that if I can bring a meal, or coffee, or just be of company, I would be more than happy to do that. We'd could bring crafts or activities to the hospital as well. Feel free to email me! jamieussher(at)gmail(dot)com.

Anonymous said...

that brings tears to the eye and some. Thinking of you at this time. I know what its like to be in hospital and away from family and friends. Hang in there, think positive. many people have properly said to contact them if you guys wanna talk and it is good to do it sometimes. you can talk to me anytime- text me or email me.
Take care :)
Dave D

Sew Pretty Fabric NZ said...

Wow what a story. I have been very fortunate to be involved with a fantastic organisation called Bellyful, and last year I got to deliver over 100 meals (donated by the Temuka branch) to Ranui House which home a lot of families in Christchurch central who's children/family are undergoing treatment. You can read all about how it really brought tears to my eyes at my blog here: (

Well Jackie the head of Bellyful NZ came down to CHCH before Christmas to promote it here, but I have had very little time and very little enthusiasm from people to get involved. I have a big heart for this but no time to dedicate to it which is so sad as I think there is a huge need for a home cooked meal for so many in Christchurch especially after all we have been through.

I have all the things we need to start the fundraising for this event we need $250 to officially start the Bellyful and lots of mummies/woman/volunteers to get together to make the meals!

I would so love to meet someone who is able to get involved and run with this, so if you find anyone who is keen to help during this process let me know! 0220179296

Here is the Website for Bellyful
and you can find them on Facebook too.

Let me know if there is something I can do, make a meal, or some baking.

Anonymous said...

wow What a beautiful thing you are doing,what an awesome friend! Our love and strength are with you all.And know that we are all here for you when you need us. Any time, any thing.. Lots of Love xxx ♥ Lisa & baz

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel,
Tabitha here for Pillowcases for oncology Kids, thank you so much for your email and just reading your blog has brought a tear to my eye. We are very excited to be able to send one of our gorgeous pillowcases over to Zariah and hopefully we might even be able to send a few more over soon for some of the other children in the ward.
Please send our love and thoughts to little Zariah and her family form everyone here at POK.
<3 <3 <3
'keep smiling it's contagious'

Hazel Schreiner said...

Thank you so much for your offer of support. I have passed your details on to Zariah's Mummy :) Hazel

Hazel Schreiner said...

Thank you so much for your offer of support. I have passed your details on to Zariah's Mummy :) Hazel

Hazel Schreiner said...

Thank you Tabitha, and I wish Brittany all the best :) Hazel

7 Year Wedding said...

Oh no Hazel! My heart goes out to you guys, what a terrible situation. Both my mum and my best friends husband have gone through cancer battles and it is heart wrenching. Positivity and a strong mental attitude play a key role to success and as for mouth dryness perhaps lots of iceblocks? Take care and hope everything is okay.

Tabitha said...

Hi Hazel,
We are really excited to be apart of Zariah's journey and are looking forward to hearing fantastic reports on how she is doing, i am about to add this as a link on the Pillowcases for Oncology Kids page and get our Australian community to help out our NZ neighbours and get some special smiles onto some faces :)
Love Tabitha xx

Janice Battle (newcastle, nsw) said...

Hi Hazel, my heart goes out to Zariah and her family. My girlfriends daughter was in the same position, firstly she was diagnosed with a brain tumour while pregnant. She underwent surgery and then her baby was delivered. After some dramas things seem to be going well, unfortunately her son was diagnosed with a neuroma behind his eye. His eye was removed and the cancer had not spread. With all this drama Kelly became aware of a need for people from the country to have access to facilities in and around the hospitals that she had been rushed to. She has set up the Helping Hands and Friendly Faces foundation ( to help fill this need. I wish everyone all the best at this time as being separated is often more difficult than the treatment itself.

Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel,
We just wanted to let you know that Pillowcases for Oncology Kids has sent out a very special SOS to our pillowcase family to help us get 100 pillowcases for the kids undergoing treatment for cancer at Christchurch Hospital.
Everybody has been so moved by Zariah's story and about the hospital that they wanted to help out all the 'special smiles' in New Zealand.
So, once we recieve all the pillowcases there will be a special parcel making its way to NZ from everyone here in Australia <3
Love and hugs
Tabitha xxx
'keep smiling it's contagious'

Andrea Reh said...

What a lovely idea Hazel - my heart goes out to Zariah and all the kids at Christchurch hospital. I was thinking that maybe you should get in touch with a programme like Campbell Live to raise awareness of the situation at the hospital, and perhaps get donations such as televisions and toys.

Andrea x

LostCookie said...

What a lovely idea for a brave girl and family, it must be absolutely devastating for them. would love to keep seeing updates on this little girl during her treatment. Have shared the link to your blog on my facebook business page (Nicky McGowan Photograohy)so hopefully you get a lot more support

Hazel Schreiner said...

Thank you so much Tabitha, what you are doing really warms our hearts here in Christchurch, we are sending just as much love and just as many hugs back in your direction, tell Brittany to keep smiling... it's contagious!! :) Hazel

Hazel Schreiner said...

What a great idea Andrea, things have becoming a lot more hopeful in the ward in recent weeks, and fortunately it won't be much longer until the new wards are open :) Hazel

Hazel Schreiner said...

Thank you so much, that is beyond sweet!! :) Hazel

Anonymous said...

Does Zariah have a favourite TV character? Something we did for our sick neice was buy a couple of her favourite pillowslips so she had those on her bed to just feel more like hers. They will likely get told this but the hospital cafeteria has nice food - snacks & meals & drinks that are reasonably priced - it's a rabbit warren to get there and is not the cafe but more where the doctors etc eat but is open to the public as well. Best wishes to them.

Anonymous said...

Hi there... just thought i'd pass on incase Zariahs mum is interested in contacting other mums with children being treated for Leukemia... there is a facebook page "Please help Baby Sativa & her family fight leukemia" they have 1 year old twins, one of whom has been fighting Leukemia for quite some time. The paretns are often updating on that FB page and do reply to queries, etc... i guess if Zariahs mum had questions or wanted support she may find some there.

All the best x x

Anonymous said...

Hey there we are all wishing you the best for your recovery and hope that your life improves every day and that you keep a big smile on your face. We are sending big smiles to you to put in your heart and know that there are many many people who wish you all the very very best...To the parents you should be very proud of what you are doing to help your child or children and know that all day every day there are people wishing you all the best and supporting you in their thoughts and sending you hugs of support....Never give up and stay positive..All the Very Very Best

Anonymous said...

Wishing Zariah and her family all the very best and lots of love for a speedie recovery.