In 2019 when Aivi Luik took to the pitch in France to fulfill a life-long dream of playing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, watching back home send messages of encouragement and beaming was her number one supporter, brother Noa.
Luik’s youngest sibling, the World Cup was just another moment when Noa Kerwick (27) has been a source of reassurance and love for his older sister.
With a tight bond between the siblings, it was a devastating moment for Luik to find out recently that Noa would fighting a battle against a brain tumour, Oligodendroglioma.
“As you can imagine, this news has been very difficult for him and our family,” Luik said. “While they were able to remove 90% of it in surgery, there was a small part that remains. That part is Stage Three which means he has to undergo both radiation and chemotherapy.”
He's a great character, Noa. He's a one of a kind. He's always joking and trying to make people laugh - always the first one to break the ice in the room and I just I love him so much.”
“It's been a tough time for him and there's been times on the phone when I am overseas that he's been quiet and it's just not like him. It breaks my heart to hear him like that.”
It has been also a tough time for Luik who has had to support her brother from halfway around the world in Italy where she currently plays professional football for Pomigliano. With that tyranny of distance, the CommBank Matilda has looked for other ways to demonstrate her care for Noa.
It’s hard to feel like I'm doing enough, especially being overseas. I wanted to use this opportunity to fundraise for the Mark Hughes Foundation, which is a charity that raises funds towards brain cancer research.”
“My plan is to fundraise as much as possible as one way of showing love for him. But it’s not just for Noa.
“I see how this has impacted my family and this is a chance to shine the spotlight and assist other that suffer because of this disease; whether it's themselves, a family member or friend. At the end of the day, the patient suffers but all of the loved ones around them suffer too.”
Luik’s target is to raise $30,000 between now and the final match between the Commonwealth Bank Matildas and the New Zealand Football Ferns on Tuesday, 12 April at GIO Stadium.
If the fundraising target is met, Luik will shave her head on the pitch post-match with friend, former club teammate and Football Fern, Rebekah Stott, wielding the clippers.
“I thought it'd be a great idea for her to be the one to shave my head. Stotty is a great friend and watching her battle Hodgkin's lymphoma with so much poise was inspiring, and I couldn’t think of a better way to honour the fight of both Noa and Stotty.”
“If you have the means to and this touches your heart and if you can spare any amount of money, that would be amazing. It would mean so much to me and to my whole family. I want to see Noa laughing and joking again as much as he was before.”
You can donate to Aivi Luik’s fundraising page through the Mark Hughes Foundation here, as well as see the wonderful work of Rebekah Stott and Beat it by Stotty.