Catherine Gaffaney is a general reporter based in Auckland.

Brave mum was one 'in a zillion'

An Air New Zealand hostess who went public about her courageous fight for international cancer treatment has been remembered as a devoted mother of three and beloved colleague.

Amanda Ferreira, known as AJ, died this week aged 45. She was diagnosed with cancer of the liver and bowel in January last year.

Mrs Ferreira's family, friends, colleagues and the One Dollar Warriors fundraising group raised money for her to have Selective Internal Radiation Therapy in Brisbane last year, and alternative treatments in Bangkok in March.

She returned to New Zealand this month and went into hospice care.

Mrs Ferreira leaves behind her husband, Mark, and their daughters Monet, aged 10, Nouvel, 7, and Valentina, 4.

Her mother, Liz James, has called on the Government to make more treatments available.

Hundreds of people - including about 100 of Mrs Ferreira's Air New Zealand colleagues - attended a service in Northcote yesterday to celebrate her life.

Speaking on her husband's behalf, his cousin John Visser said of their daughters: "No child should have to endure suffering. Your bravery and courage in the past year and a half shows you have the same lionheart as your mother."

Her aunt Maggie Mujica said she loved motherhood and her 22-year career as a flight attendant. "Her job with Air New Zealand transformed her. Her colleagues were her second family. She always gave the best of herself and wanted to leave travellers as happy as she possibly could."

A black Air New Zealand koru was painted on her white coffin and packets of jetplane lollies were given out after the service.

Her cabin crew manager and longtime colleague, Tim McIntyre, said she was thoughtful and generous and had a real impact on customers.

"Even the best of us tend to get one or two customer complaints in our careers but not AJ, she never had a customer complaint.

"She had tremendous drive and enthusiasm. The news of her cancer created a tsunami of grief in the Air New Zealand family."

Longtime friend Kris Taylor, a member of her flight team, known as "the Angels", said she lit up a room as soon as she entered it.

"She was one in a zillion. She lived for being a mum. Every second spent with her girls was precious.

"She was under no illusion of the mountain she had to climb."

Ms Taylor said Mrs Ferreira's colleagues were her second family. Having to give up flying was one of the greatest losses of her life.

A video montage to In My Life by the Beatles was played at the service, and Welcome Home by Dave Dobbyn was performed.

Ms James said her daughter's Australian treatment cost $20,000, which was funded by the Australian Government. She said the same treatment cost $35,000 in New Zealand and wasn't government-funded.

"I'm angry. So many walls were hit. My beautiful girl had to go around the world to get treatments. It's worth fighting for when three little daughters are involved."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 11 Dec 2016 17:37:48 Processing Time: 708ms