Supporter of breast cancer drug Wiki Mulholland passed away

A woman who advocated better access to cancer medicines and a way to extend the lives of people with the disease has died.

Palmerston North’s Wiki Mulholland, a mother of three, died Friday at the age of 43.

Mulholland was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, the most advanced stage, in May 2018. Since then, she and her husband Malcolm have lobbied the government to provide more funding for cancer drugs such as Ibrance, and have been vocal advocates for people living with cancer.

Malcolm Mulholland said Wiki was loved by so many people and everyone was devastated.

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Wiki Mulholland, left, and husband Malcolm Mulholland on a bus to hand over a petition to parliament in May this year.

WARWICK SMITH/Things

Wiki Mulholland, left, and husband Malcolm Mulholland on a bus to hand over a petition to parliament in May this year.

“Her death was quite sudden and she was in relatively good health, but things got worse a few weeks ago. We just thought we had more time.”

He said the cancer came back in revenge.

Malcolm Mulholland said when she was first diagnosed she would only live 14 months, demonstrating how quickly Māori women could die from breast cancer.

But she was still alive three and a half years after the diagnosis.

MURRAY WILSON/STUFF

Families of the lower North Island hit by breast cancer march to parliament with a petition pleading with Pharmac to fund key medicines. (First published in October 2018)

After she was diagnosed with cancer, she began asking Ibrance, which cost about $5,800 a month, to be funded by Pharmac because it was unfair that some women couldn’t access the drug.

In 2018, de Mulhollands led a group of more than 100 women and supporters to parliament to file a petition, signed by more than 30,000 people, asking Pharmac to fund treatments for advanced breast cancer such as Ibrance and Kadcyla.

Pharmac announced last year that it would fund Ibrance, which gave people more time and saved huge sums of money.

It was a huge relief for the Muhollands, but it didn’t just help them.

Wiki Mulholland was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2018.

David Unwin / Things

Wiki Mulholland was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 2018.

“We know there are still women alive today,” said Malcolm Mulholland. “You’re not cured, but they call it the gold standard, with no evidence of disease.

“I know Wiki has brought her a lot of joy and comfort.”

He said things had been overwhelming in a positive way with messages of good wishes and support.

Wiki Mulholland was involved in community development through the Home Office, until her death, and youth development in Hawke’s Bay, where she was originally from.

Malcolm said Wiki had led a healthy lifestyle and it was sheer bad luck that she had cancer.

He praised the work of Arohanui Hospice for its support. Even by the end, Wiki had organized a fundraiser for the hospice.

Wiki Mulholland’s funeral is next week.

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