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Soon-to-be reunited . . . Timaru-based Leola Wilson chats to her Melbourne-based sister Janina Ryder on Facetime ahead of Mrs Wilson's planned trip to Australia. PHOTO: NATASHA PARRANT

by Natasha Parrant

Sisters Leola Wilson and Janina Ryder will soon be swapping Facetime for a face-to-face meeting now the transtasman bubble has opened.

As soon as her passport is renewed, Timaru resident and Cancer Society centre manager Leola Wilson is planning to book flights to visit her sister, Janina, in Melbourne.

Ms Ryder was diagnosed with breast cancer early in February, and Mrs Wilson wants to fly over to support her sibling.

While Ms Ryder’s partner was in Melbourne with her, none of her family were, as the sisters’ mother and siblings were all based in South Canterbury.

The siblings’ mother, also based in Timaru, is over the age of 70 and has decided not to travel overseas.

“I would feel uncomfortable sending my mum to Australia,” Mrs Wilson said.

She said it was important for her family to reunite, especially during a tough time like this.

Ms Ryder only just finished radiation treatment last week and could not travel to New Zealand.

She had already struggled to balance work at the Crown Casino in Southbank with Covid-19 restrictions, as well as fighting breast cancer, Mrs Wilson said.

Ms Ryder said she was recovering slowly and was excited about her sister’s visit, especially as no-one could travel when Covid-19 lockdown rules were in place.

She teared up as she said it was important to have support from her family.

Mrs Wilson hopes to visit her sister during a long weekend once her new passport is issued and she has been able to book flights.

She said she did not want to “jinx it” by booking flights before sorting out her expired passport.

“It’s about time” the transtasman bubble was open, Mrs Wilson said.

Mrs Wilson’s husband planned to fly his daughter from Townsville, Queensland, to New Zealand next week.