A Tauranga mum has embarked on her last chance at life so that she can spend as much time as possible with her two talented sons.
Tracey Pay, a single mum of boys aged 15 and 12, was on the verge of running out of funded treatment options for cancer that began in the breast and had spread to other parts of her body.
Her dearest wish was to continue to be the number one fan of her sons Charlie and George who play in school and rep hockey teams. Rain or shine, she was always there on the sidelines.
The 48-year-old was now on her last course of state-funded chemotherapy - treatment that had failed to slow the advance of the cancer into the sternum, pectoral muscle and lung.
"I'm running out of options and all I can think about is my boys. Would they want me to give up or fight? I have to fight."
Friends had rallied to help give her a last chance at life by starting a Givealittle page that had so far accumulated nearly $8000.
Ms Pay needs a lot more to afford the treatment option recommended by her oncologist. The drug Kadcyla combined chemotherapy with Herceptin, offering two chances in one treatment of killing cancer cells. Kadcyla is available in New Zealand but is unfunded by Pharmac.
With a four-week course costing $10,000, finding the money so she could spring into action with Kadcyla once she finished her last course of chemotherapy had become a major challenge.
Even family in her former hometown of Bodmin in England had rallied by organising a charity auction at a local pub on August 26. There would be a live feed of the auction so she could watch it at home.
Ms Pay considered returning to England for treatment but 14 years living in New Zealand meant she felt like a Kiwi and her boys needed stability.
"I don't want to be away from them. They are settled at school. If I have not long left, I want to spend as much time with them as I can."
Her fundraising options were limited because she lived in rented accommodation and so could not borrow on a house. Even returning to England would not immediately qualify her for treatment because of the time spent living in New Zealand. Waiting six months or a year for alternative drugs in the UK was life or death to her.
In any event, she was not fit enough for such a big trip because her lungs kept filling up with fluid. "My oncologist has not recommended me travelling to the UK."
Ms Pay said she was an independent person and it was a big thing to have to ask for money. "I find it really difficult."
That was where her friends and family had rallied, with friends calling her the most positive and inspiring person they knew.
A tribute on the Givealittle page said: "Although she is fighting a terminal illness, she is always willing to help others and goes out of her way to do so when is able. Tracey has so many friends that want to help her and this is our way of supporting her in her fight."
They said that creating the page on Givealittle was a positive way to show how much they supported and admired Tracey.
The Bay of Plenty Times is seeking comment from Pharmac about Kadcyla.
Tracey Pay Givealittle page donations
- Meet unfunded drug treatments in New Zealand
- Fund travel and accommodation costs should drug trials become available overseas
- To contribute, visit the Givealittle website and search for Tracey Pay