"For me, 2015 was my year of being ill, 2016 was my year of going to parliament, 2017 was the year of public speaking - and I am not sure what 2018 will bring."

That was how Mount Maunganui College maths teacher Leisa Renwick summed up her last two years since being diagnosed with stage four melanoma on Mother's Day, 2015.

"Without sounding terrible, life is not always good, but it is always worth it," the 49-year-old said.

Renwick was told there was nothing doctors could do at the time of her 2015 diagnosis.

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But the mother-of-three would not accept being told to go home to die and instead she campaigned for the melanoma drug pembrolizumab (brand name Keytruda) to become available to all Kiwis with advanced melanoma.

Renwick's petition to Parliament requesting extra funding for Pharmac so Keytruda could become more accessible for Kiwis received more than 11,000 signatures.

Keytruda costs $8500 every three weeks. It does not work for everyone, but it worked for Renwick - and her petitioning could help save the lives of many others.

The Tauranga woman, who was named the Herald's New Zealander of the Year in 2016, had just received her final infusion of Keytruda before Christmas when the Bay of Plenty Times called.

"There is still no evidence of disease, my health is going really well," Renwick said.

She said it was great New Zealanders finally had access to the drug, but there was still a lot of drugs that Australians had access to that Kiwis did not.

Renwick hoped the new funding for early access to the drugs would give people a pathway next year and allow them to access the drug without having to campaign for it.

"I would like to have some input into that, but I am sure others would too," she said.

Renwick planned to continue taking the drug but did not know how long for.

"There is that fear you don't want to stop taking something that is working," she said. "Many people over in Australia have come off it and are still well but exactly when I come off it I don't know."

Renwick had also spent this year speaking about her journey at many public events, including the Ladies Long Lunch in November.

Her New Year's resolutions included working on her fitness.

"A couple of years ago I could not even stand, but this morning my husband and I did an RPM class," Renwick said.

She also planned to write a book.

"For me, 2015 was my year of being ill, 2016 was my year of going to parliament, 2017 was the year of public speaking and I am not sure what 2018 will bring."

Hopefully good things? "Well, without sounding terrible, life is not always good, but it is always worth it," Renwick said.

LEISA RENWICK:

49, lives in Tauranga

Mother of three, married to Wayne

Maths teacher at Mount Maunganui College

May 2015: Diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma and given weeks to live. Told no treatment available in public system. Started taking dabrafenib, a gene therapy drug, which costs $12,000 a month.

August: Tests showed her cancer had shrunk. But she was told the cancer would become resistant to dabrafenib.

October: She switched to pembrolizumab, better known as Keytruda, which costs $8500 every three weeks.

November: Starts petition to Parliament requesting more funding for Pharmac to provide pembrolizumab for those with advanced melanoma.

March 2016: Presents petition of 11,085 signatures on steps of Parliament.

May: Government announces $39 million funding boost for Pharmac.

June: Pharmac announces Keytruda will be publicly funded from September.

August: Renwick makes submission on petition to Health Select Committee, unusual because the petition was already successful.

December: Named the Herald's New Zealander of the Year.