A terminally ill Hastings mum of two is raising funds to be the first New Zealander to undergo a experimental form of treatment, potentially saving her from an aggressive form of cancer.
Kirsty Porcer, 42, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2012. Following a nine-and-a-half hour surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy doctors told her in January the stage four breast cancer had metastasised to her bones, including hips, legs, knees and crucially her spine.
In a last hope to beat cancer, the former Havelock North farm girl decided to make her way to Germany this year to begin full body hypothermia treatment.
"For six months I was confined to my bed and threw up all day. It was like the worst food poisoning you've ever had. You don't want to do it, your body doesn't either, your whole body seizes up and you become anxious," she said of the chemotherapy.
"You don't ever stop fighting when you've got two small children though."
Kirsty featured on Hawke's Bay Today's Facebook page Thought of the Day post: the most inspirational person in Hawke's Bay is ... and received a number of glowing endorsements for her strength, character and inspirational story.
After reading a book given to her by a friend called Anti Cancer a New Way of Life, she discovered a way forward and new forms of treatment.
"I was given morphine by the doctors and told there was nothing else they could do, so I had to try something."
Researching alternative treatments, Kirsty found diet would be vital to her survival and also began high levels of vitamin C infusion treatments twice a week.
"I eliminated all sugars from my diet, all refined sugars, processed foods. When it's a matter of life or death, it was easy."
The vitamin C treatments, also experimental, reduced pain, provided clarity and enabled her to walk more freely, after previously being so weak she needed to be carried to the clinic by family and friends.
"Chemo completely lowers your immunity and that makes nutrition such a key," she said. "Cancer cells feed on sugar, and that's something they don't tell you after treatment, but it's so important."
Sugar is nothing more than a "hungry cancer monster" now and her entire family has also eliminated sugar from their diets.
"Any one with my blood has a predisposition to what I have. There are not too many 42-year-olds who are terminally ill."
She said since changing her treatment and lifestyle her tumour markers, a test used to evaluate cancer levels, have dropped by 35 per cent.
For her potentially life-saving trip to Europe, just under $10,000 has been raised via the online charity givealittle, while about an extra $32,000 is needed for the hypothermia treatment within the next two weeks for a deposit.
"They put you into a feverous state and the thinking is your body is so hot the cancer cells cannot survive and start to die. Then they give you an infusion of vitamin C, helping to boost your immune system which attacks the cancer," she said of the therapy.
The cost for Kirsty will be about $100,000 and she is selling her house in an attempt to help pay for the four-week treatment.
She said two people have offered to mortgage their houses to raise funds.
"When you're the mum of two children, you do anything if there's hope. Those who believe live the longest. I'm too young to die and I think I should be allowed to have a second chance," she said.
"It's not a nice story but it could have a happy ending."