Children to fulfil mother s dying wish
Mika, Alicia and Jed Roberts remember their mother Zita who died of lung cancer. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

Seven years on from their mother's death, the children of Perth lung cancer victim Zita Roberts say it is now time for them to continue her anti-smoking campaign.

The three children, who watched their mother tell how her five-a-day smoking habit led to her terminal illness, will be the adult faces of a television advertising campaign showing the lasting impact smoking has on a family.

Alicia, 21, Mika, 20, and 18-year-old Jed said they wanted to show the far-reaching effects of smoking and explain how the "emptiness" in their lives resulted from a smoking habit.

Mika said it had been one of her mother's dying wishes that her children continue the campaign, which the Cancer Council WA believed led to a third of the State's smokers quitting or cutting down.

"When mum died they stopped airing the adverts because we were grieving," she said.

"Mum always said before she died that when we were ready she wanted us to contact the cancer council to see if they could re-air the adverts.

"We're a lot older now and we all come from a place where we want to forward mum's legacy."

The siblings remember being collected early from school to be told of their mother's condition.

The moment would be the start of many months of watching her condition deteriorate until she died in 2007 aged 38.

"When she told us she was ill, we all slept in the lounge room that night and just cried the whole night," Mika said.

Raised by their close-knit Singaporean relatives in Perth, the children have since graduated from school and still feel "struck by loneliness" during Mother's Days and birthday celebrations.

Zita had spoken in one television campaign about how she regretted not being there for the milestones in her children's lives.

"I'll never be there to help my girls dress up for the prom," she said in one advertisement.

Alicia said she hoped sharing their experiences would encourage parents to quit smoking.

"The consequences are far more reaching than people initially realise," she said. "It's not just the fact that you've got cancer and you're going to die, it's the fact that you're probably going to leave someone behind, maybe young children, and they're going to miss you."

Ms Roberts' children have launched their campaign on their website zitastory.com.au.

The West Australian

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