When Karen Hunter found out she had terminal breast cancer, she didn't take the news sitting down.

Determined and feisty, the Wellington mother-of-two threw herself into learning more about her illness, and the research and treatments for secondary breast cancer.

It's been nearly three years since she died, but Karen's legacy lives on in a brewery and restaurant her family are opening in March so they can keep raising money for cancer research in the long term.

In life, Karen wanted to see change happen, and in her memory her loved ones are making sure it does.

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Elwyn Scott, left, Lisa Scott and Russel Scott have opened a brewery which they will partly use to raise funds for breast cancer research. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
Elwyn Scott, left, Lisa Scott and Russel Scott have opened a brewery which they will partly use to raise funds for breast cancer research. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

The Karen Louisa Foundation was set up after her death in April 2015, and so far has raised at least $120,000 for breast cancer research.

The Whistling Sisters brewery, which will donate some of its profits to the foundation, was created as a lasting way the family could continue raising money for cancer research and treatments. It is still a business, but it will also be used to raise funds.

"Our promise as a family was to continue doing something in Karen's name and not just let it drop," said Karen's father, Russel Scott.

"We needed a strong business model to be able to support ongoing research. This is just very much the start of that.

"After we've gone, this will still continue in Karen's name."

We're determined as a family to see if we can effect change for other women.

Russel, who still strongly feels the loss of his daughter, said the brewery and restaurant was "not about the more beer you drink the more money you're going to make".

"We're determined as a family to see if we can effect change for other women."

Sister Lisa Scott remembers Karen as opinionated, sassy, and "very complex".

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"She had a great sense of humour, she had a dark sense of humour," she said.

Karen, who loved the sea, monarch butterflies, and dancing, was an occupational therapist and a hands-on patient.

She would text her oncologist and ask questions such as "you're not giving up on me, are you?"

Karen wouldn't want us sitting on our bums. Don't get me wrong, we all have those days, but she wouldn't want us wallowing.

She was a "massive advocate" for men getting checked for breast cancer as well, and became a passionate voice for people in similar situations, even speaking at a Breast Cancer Foundation consumer meeting for people with secondary breast cancer.

"I guess that determination of not taking a back seat sort of rubbed off on us," Lisa said.

Since setting up the Karen Louisa Foundation, which is a registered charitable trust, the family have held functions and auctions, raising thousands of dollars to fund cancer research. The most raised in one event was $34,905 between 72 people.

"Karen wouldn't want us sitting on our bums. Don't get me wrong, we all have those days, but she wouldn't want us wallowing."

The brewery was a legacy, Lisa said.

"It's probably an unusual legacy to a lot of people . . . [but] the hospitality industry is something that we know. That was our first homes living above bars and restaurants."

The Scott family own Leuven Bar, The Featherston City Tavern, Avida Bar in Wellington.

Russel was "incredibly sad" but glad to have the opportunity to do something for Karen through Whistling Sisters.

"She's right here with me," he said.

Mother Elwyn Scott said when they were at the end of their lives they wanted to know they'd made a change in the world.

Being able to run the brewery and foundation was "bittersweet", Lisa said.

"I think if we had done it straight after her death we couldn't have done it. We still think about her every day but I think it does make you feel like your legs are going in the right direction."

The restaurant is set to open on March 8.