Jessica Trotter was pregnant with her second child when she received the bad news.
The headaches she had been having were due to a tumour on her brain. It was thought to be benign so she carried on with the pregnancy.
A month after giving birth, it was found she had stage three brain cancer.
She died this week aged 30, at her parents' home in Matakana, north of Auckland, after almost two years fighting the diesease.
She leaves behind two sons, Jayden, 3, and Jack, 1.
"Her diagnosis was a complete shock," said her father, Neil Trotter. "It blew us away.
"She had achieved everything she wanted to. She left home at 18 and went to university in the city.
"She got a degree, worked, got married, had children. I'm so gutted she couldn't carry it on.
"I'll always be gutted."
Jessica had six weeks of radiation therapy and six courses of chemotherapy to be around as long as possible for her sons.
The eldest of four siblings, she had always been motherly.
"It was a very aggressive tumour," Mr Trotter said.
"In the end, she was so sick we had to wheel her in her wheelchair out into the lounge to be with the children.
"But as soon as she saw them, she would blossom. She lost the ability to read so she would tell them stories.
"She never gave up. She kept fighting to the end. She wanted to live for her boys; she wanted to be their mummy."
Jessica spent her last six months living with her parents.
She stopped taking medication and relied on natural therapies to ease her pain.
"She was able to hang on and be with us for a bit longer," Mr Trotter said. "She died peacefully at home in her bed, calm; collected; loved.
"She had always wanted to make her own way in the world but she also loved to come home to the farm, especially with the boys.
"Just three months ago, she was outside playing Ring a Ring o' Roses with them."
Mr Trotter and his wife, Lynette, are keen to look after her sons, who are with Jessica's estranged husband. "The boys loved playing out here. "We just hope we'll be able to see more of them," Mrs Trotter said.
Dr Jonathan Simcock, medical adviser to the Neurological Foundation, said getting brain cancer at a young age was rare.
"Brain cancer, which starts in the brain and doesn't spread to the brain from another part of the body, is more common between the ages of 65 and 75," he said. "Having it at 30 is unusual."