A South African mum moved to New Zealand for a better life. Now, she's dying of cancer and the drug that could extend her life is out of reach.

Ilze Schoonraad, 42, was diagnosed with high-grade ovarian cancer just six months after shifting to New Zealand with her son Christiaan, now 8, and husband Pieter in 2014.

Ilze with her bundle of joy, Christiaan. Photo / Supplied
Ilze with her bundle of joy, Christiaan. Photo / Supplied

Pieter said her family had been victims of an attempted hijacking, and shootings outside their South African home were becoming frequent.

"It was just after our son was born and crime-wise it just wasn't the kind of environment you want to raise children in," Pieter told the Herald.

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Ilze enjoying the time she has left with her husband Pieter and son Christiaan. Photo / Supplied
Ilze enjoying the time she has left with her husband Pieter and son Christiaan. Photo / Supplied

However, their family's distress continued when they got to New Zealand.

After getting diagnosed, the oncology nurse had 18 rounds of chemotherapy and surgery before two years of taking a drug called Olaparib.

But her cancer kept coming back and this time it is terminal. They don't know how long she has left but it's likely to be a matter of months, Pieter said.

The "bubbly, caring and selfless" character's last hope to extend her life is a drug called Avastin but it costs more than $62,000 as it's not publicly funded.

Pieter said they have medical insurance but it only covers $10,000 of this.

He said they were running out of time.

A Givealittle page was launched by a family friend last month to help cover medical costs.

Schoonraad also hopes to travel back to South Africa one last time as her sister is battling breast cancer.

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More than $18,500 has been raised as of Tuesday morning.

Schoonraad is a nurse who has worked in intensive care and oncology helping other cancer patients survive.

 Ilze Schoonraad and her son Christiaan moved to New Zealand for a better life. Photo / Supplied
Ilze Schoonraad and her son Christiaan moved to New Zealand for a better life. Photo / Supplied

Family friend Nicola Rollitt, who launched the Givealittle page, said Schoonraad had devoted her life to caring for others and providing families with strength, compassion, support and extremely high standards of nursing care.

"Throughout all her treatment, the past five years Ilze has remained positive, continued to work due to financial straints, providing quality nursing whilst at the back of her mind she has cancer herself.

"She has shown amazing powers of self control, putting her own emotions aside, helping and being there for others. Ilze you are a true inspiration."