Ruta Alo was a kind, quiet and humble person. She believed in tradition and ensured her family knew and upheld cultural practice and values - Fa’a Samoa – the “Samoan way”.

It was these cultural values and her belief in God that would help Ruta through dark times with an 11-year battle with cancer. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Ruta chose to have a partial mastectomy and radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The cancer returned some three years later, she had treatment and continued to live her life.

Sadly in 2014, her cancer returned for a third time and Ruta Alo passed away at home on the 8th June 2014 surrounded by family and loved ones.

Ruta contributed to the work of the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) being part of a small group of Pacific women BCAC would seek advice or comment from regarding breast cancer. She gave a voice for Pacific women with breast cancer suggesting best ways to communicate with the Samoan community and advising that many of her generation listen to the radio or read the Samoan newspapers.

Ruta was actively involved in church activities at St Marys Catholic Church in Mt Albert. In the congregation she was part of a small group of women diagnosed with cancer or women that had close family or friends diagnosed with cancer. Together they would support each other, nothing formal but just to talk and share stories, meeting a few times each week for choir or church activities.

Ruta was also the grandmother of my nieces Phoenix and Jailyn and my nephew Krystian Alo-To’o. She was a rock to the family, a loving wife, nurturing mother, a wonderful grandmother teaching Samoan culture and values. Now every time my nieces and nephew siva (dance) we will all think of you Ruta and the great impact you made enriching the lives of others in your humble way.

18 May 2015