Nurse pays it forward to Leukemia patient helping family - WNEM TV 5

Nurse pays it forward to Leukemia patient helping family

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(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)

A young man was willing to put his own life on the line to help his family deal with financial problems, but thankfully, it didn't come to that.

Sam Mafua, 23, was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia in December that usually strikes children younger than 12 years old.

"I come here and try to smile as much as possible, talk to everybody," Mafua said.

Because Mafua is older than most people in the pediatric cancer ward at Banner Hospital in Mesa, nurses often recruit him to left the spirits of his younger counterparts and it's not unusual to see him engaged in Nerf gun wars in the hallways.

"He makes us laugh. He makes our days brighter with his sense of humor, with his kindness, with the respect that he has for everyone," pediatric nurse practitioner Nicholette Breier-Adkins said. "He's just a fun person who's not going to let anything hold him down."

The staff has grown quite fond of Mafua - that's why they were floored one day when he came in and asked to stop his chemotherapy.

Mafua's father lost his job and his mother is blind and in poor health so as the oldest son in Arizona, he felt obligated to work to support his family.

"We had to explain to him that if he stopped or even paused his treatment for awhile, his chances for survival would be very slim," Breier-Adkins said.

To make matters worse, because of his age, he doesn't qualify for more of the program that could reduce the financial burden at home.

Breier-Adkins, with the help of CBS 5 News, awarded Mafua and his family with $500.

"This is a blessing, and it's a blessing that she actually sat down and [sent] emails to see what she could do and [I] thank God for that," Mafua said. "This is not my time for me, no way possible. I still have to walk my daughter down the aisle when she gets married."

Mafua will need to undergo chemotherapy for two and a half more years, but his prognosis is good and so is his attitude.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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