Waiora has had surgery to remove basal cell carcinoma, skin cancer, from her face three times - and she lives with the worry that the operations may not be her last.
Grandmother to three girls, Waiora resides in an eco village in Ranui, and attended a West Auckland Look Good Feel Better class. She wanted to learn how to disguise her misshapen lip, the legacy of having had three cancerous lumps removed in eight years.
“To others it wasn’t discernible, but it was to me. And the class was so humbling. I went back to work and I said “I feel like such a fraud. I have only had this”.
“I was in a class where women didn’t have their hair, they didn’t have a breast, they were going through chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
“I learnt how to subtly apply products and then when I looked in the mirror I just thought ‘wow’. I thought I looked really great.
“At nearly age 60 it has made such a huge difference in my life. As someone who has had cancer, who thinks that cancer may return again, just looking and feeling the best that I can makes such a huge difference.
“When you feel better, it just radiates from your face and you have a tingle in your toes.”
Waiora, who spent most of her life in Whangarei and Hokianga, had wanted a tu moko on her mouth and chin, to acknowledge her heritage, but she now wants to leave her face clear so she can watch for any changes.
“I don’t think I will do that any more”, let’s leave things as they are.”