A week ago Melody Klein Ovink lived with the knowledge she could drop dead at any moment.
Now, thanks to highly specialised and risky surgery in the US, that weight has been lifted from the 24-year-old.
The Tauranga physiotherapist had a rare condition called spinal arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal tangle of blood vessels on, in or near the spinal cord.
The disorder also causes a disruption in the blood flow to the spine which deprives the cells of oxygen and causes them to slowly deteriorate or die. The arteries or veins in the tangle can also rupture and cause bleeding in the spinal cord, which can lead to paralysis or death.
She was diagnosed late last year and doctors in New Zealand said there was nothing they could do so she was going to have to live with the condition and hope it didn't rupture.
Not content to live in fear, she got in touch with the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona who agreed to do the surgery but warned her it was risky.
She began a campaign to raise the $470,000 needed to pay for the surgery but it was cut short when the Ministry of Health approved her funding application to the high cost treatment pool in May.
Since then things have moved quickly.
Klein Ovink and her mother MaryAnn arrived in the US on July 12 and last Friday, New Zealand time, she underwent a nine-hour surgery in which a surgeon removed the whole arteriovenous malformation.
"The AVM is completely gone which means I am 100 per cent cured and no longer at risk of a bleed. It's still hard to wrap my head around that fact and I think it will take a while to sink in," she told the Herald from Barrow's Rehabilitation Centre in Phoenix.
In the week since the surgery she had been moved from intensive care to the rehabilitation centre but, as warned, there was still a long road to recovery ahead.
The surgeon had to cut through the middle of her spinal cord to access the malformation causing painful nerve damage on her right side and the loss of the sense of where that half of her body was in space - all of which she expected.
In short, that means she is having to learn to walk and use her right arm.
"Doctors are quietly optimistic that I will continue to improve. It is too early to know how much of my deficits will be short term and how much will be long term but I'm extremely motivated to continue with intensive rehab for as long as is needed.
"I've been accepted to stay in Barrow's Rehabilitation Centre for the next couple of weeks for a period of intensive rehab before hopefully flying back to Aoteoroa."
Despite the challenges, Klein Ovink is already making huge strides in her recovery.
She was slowly regaining the sense of where her limbs were, on Thursday
she managed to walk without assistance for the first time and she was starting to be able to use her right hand for some tasks.
"My journey so far has been pretty incredible," she said.
"I'm so grateful that the AVM has been removed and that I can now focus on this new chapter in my life, whatever that may look like. The support from New Zealand family and friends and the prayers from people all around the world have been invaluable to my success so far."