(Music) I’m one of seven children, I come from Samoa and I came to New Zealand when I was a year old. Morning Emily Morning Tila How are you?
When I was a young girl I used to like helping people, umm mostly my
parents doing housework and things like that, helping out at church. In high school I really wanted to be involved in the health industry, so started my dream of becoming a nurse. My life changed when I was 11. It began when I started getting a sore throat. I never really thought much about
it, but as the weeks wore on my joints were in so much pain, like they were
inflamed, and it was just really painful to move. It wasn’t until the day that
I really felt like I couldn’t move at all that we had to go to hospital and we
found out that it was Rheumatic Fever. Rheumatic Fever is something that starts from a bug called strep A in your throat, and if left untreated it will travel to your heart and damage the valves. Being an 11 year old it was really scary. I wasn’t allowed to move at all,
I was on strict bed rest, which meant that I couldn’t even turn around in my bed without having to call for a nurse to come in and move me. Once I was released from the hospital I had to learn to walk again. When I came back to school, it was hard. I had fallen behind because
of how long I had been out of school for. After that it was another 11 years of injections every month that I had to go through which was also hard. Hey girls Hi
How are you? Good!
Yeah. How was your weekend? Good.
Yeah. Today I am back at my old school, Kia Aroha College and I am working here as a Whanau support worker, looking after the Rheumatic Fever prevention programme and I am also in my second year of my health science degree at AUT. Ok, these are your tonsils right? So with the, I absolutely love what I do, working with the students. I’m comfortable in discussing these things with the students because I know exactly what it’s like. I know exactly what families have to go through, the sacrifices, everything, I’ve been there and done that. Rheumatic Fever is a very serious illness but it’s also preventable. We can change the way things are
happening now, just by being knowledgeable and knowing what to do if your child has a sore throat. I’m married and I have 2 young girls. I
absolutely love my family. My name is Whitney Tila Maresala-Thompson and I’m a survivor of Rheumatic Fever. Sore throats can lead to Rheumatic Fever and heart damage. If you’re not sure what to do, call Healthline for advice. (music)