Hunter Calder

Hamilton resident Heather Smith has terminal cancer. It started as breast cancer. Now spread to her liver and bones, she's been told she has about six weeks left.

But, her last weeks have been made easier because of the kindness of strangers.

"I just can't even express how thankful I am. I'm sitting here accepting my fate whether it be next week, whether it be in two weeks," she says.


It was last month that Heather called Leighton Smith at NewstalkZB to share her views on the welfare system. Heather was at the end of her tether living in a sleepout, undergoing cancer treatment without support. She was ready to give up.

"I would have quite happily walked out in front of a bus. I thought about it, but I wouldn't do it because I couldn't do that to anybody's family and wreck innocent people's lives.

"I think for some reason Leighton pulled it out of me, without me knowing what I was doing."

Raewyn Scott-Smith was listening to that phone call on the radio.

"Basically her life just came out, it was just a sad story. It broke my heart, it broke many people's hearts," she says.

Raewyn is one of many who reached out to help Heather travel to Christchurch to visit her daughter Chanelle, who was recovering from spinal surgery. But those plans fell apart when Heather was told she was unable to fly.

"About a week and a half ago the wheels fell off for Heather and she was admitted to hospital and basically hasn't come out since," Raewyn says.

Instead, Chanelle flew to Hamilton to spend time with her mum. All Heather wanted was to see her daughter and leave behind some photographic memories.


With the help of a photographer, they were captured last weekend.

"Mum and I aren't very photogenic but she captured moments, she captured the love," Chanelle says.

Mother and daughter agree the experience has restored their faith in human nature. Now they're focussed on making sure their time left together counts.

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