Toni Street has thanked her fans for their support after she revealed that she was suffering from an incurable and potentially fatal auto-immune disease.
On Monday night's Seven Sharp, she said she hadn't wanted to make a "hoo haa" about recently being diagnosed with Churg-Strauss syndrome, but the mother of two told Woman's Day she came close to organ failure and has already had her gallbladder removed after years of poor health.
She said she was "blown away" by the messages of support she'd received.
"There are some real gems of people out there."
Churg-Strauss syndrome causes auto-immune systems to overreact, leading to allergies, tissue damage and death. It is hard to diagnose as symptoms can disappear and reappear without warning.
Street, who has been battling stomach pains for six years, was so sick she was in the early stages of organ failure because of the incurable disease. She had her gallbladder removed just after the birth of her second child.
"I'd been told that I would feel miles better pretty much as soon as my gallbladder was out, but just a day or two later, the horrible pain returned and I just had this awful sinking feeling that things still weren't right.
"I kind of knew deep down that something else quite nasty was going on."
That led to a diagnosis of Churg-Strauss syndrome by a specialist, which is being treated with steroid infusions and immune-suppressant drugs each day. It may mean Street faces chemotherapy in the future, WD reports.
"They (the infusions) make me really puffy and achy, and you just feel really worn out ... they make you feel quite depressed," Street says.
The diagnosis left the long-running TVNZ presenter in "complete shock".
"I managed to hold it together with the doctor, but I got out to the car and just burst into tears ... I was freaking out - the words 'organ failure' and 'chemotherapy' were so scary," she told Woman's Day.
She also mentioned her experiences in a recent Seven Sharp story on health scares when she said she had experienced "the very best and the worst of New Zealand's healthcare" over the past three months.
A Facebook post by Seven Sharp saw the site flooded with messages of support for Street.
"Toni you're a strong woman and I just love watching you. Sending positive thoughts your way," said one.
"No one would ever have guessed that you've been going through all that traumatic and stressful stuff. Wishing you all the best," wrote another.
Others shared their own stories with the disease.
"Toni, my partner got Vasculitis 3yrs ago, also a very rare auto immune disease. He was on all those horrid drugs to fight it. Having the same puffiness, & worry, & wondering etc as you. We got through it, ( yes, it was B tough going),stay positive. He was weaned off the prednisone a few mths ago, & is doing fine."
Others took to Twitter to share their support.
Street says she's determined to continue her demanding presenting duties on Seven Sharp because "I love my job". She has Fridays off during weeks when she is receiving treatment.
Street says she's looking on the bright side because it could have been "so much worse".
"If someone had told me six months ago that I was about to go through all this, I just don't know what I would've thought, but it's amazing how resilient you can be when you're faced with these things," she tells the mag.
"Every time I see my specialist, he just keeps saying, 'You're a very lucky girl,' because most of my organs were spared."
What is Churg-Strauss syndrome?
An autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of blood vessels, Churg-Strauss syndrome comes in three stages. The first is inflammation, allergies and asthma; the second is tissue damage to the lungs and digestive system; and finally vasculitis, organ failure and, potentially, death. Making things more complicated is that symptoms can appear and disappear, only to return years later. Treatment involves using drugs to suppress the immune system. It is named after the doctors who first discovered in, Jacob Churg and Lotte Strauss, in 1951. (Source: Wikipedia)