Kelleigh Burkett with daughters Paige, 9, Charli, 5, Holly,
6, and husband Craig.
Big-hearted Kiwis have dug deep today and donated more
than $16,000 in just a few hours to support a terminally ill
breast cancer sufferer battling for more time with her family.
Kelleigh Burkett, 41, is desperately fundraising to try to
get accepted for experimental drug trials in Australia which
could buy her more precious time in creating a lifetime of
memories for her children.
Before the Christchurch mum's story was highlighted in
today's New Zealand Herald, she had raised around $6,000 on
fundraising website, Givealittle .
Her goal was to raise $10,000.
But in just a few hours this morning, thousands of dollars'
worth of donations flooded in. At 3pm, the total was sitting
"It is beyond our imaginations and is what dreams are made
of," a Facebook page dedicated to Mrs Burkett's story said
"We are getting at least 2-3 donations a minute from super
generous and kind people from all over New Zealand."
Most of the donations have come with comments wishing her all
Mrs Burkett thought she had overcome the aggressive cancer
that she was first diagnosed with in June 2010, a year after
her youngest daughter Charli was born.
But it returned last May when a tumour emerged in her spine.
Earlier this month, an acute migraine sent her to hospital
where MRI scans found another tumour had formed on her brain.
It had also taken residence in her liver.
She has tried, and continues to try, everything that the New
Zealand medical community has to offer.
This week she finished the latest round of intensive, and
"very scary", brain radiation therapy and has more treatment
scheduled for Dunedin in a few days.
But she has heard about experiment drug trials in Sydney
which, if accepted into the PARP inhibitor trial drug
programme, may buy her some more time.
The PARP inhibitor is designed to repair glitches on damaged
strands of DNA.
Mrs Burkett, who's already battled chemotherapy, radiation, a
double mastectomy and reconstruction, is willing to try
"We're going over to see that if - under any compassionate
grounds - they might consider giving me this drug to slow
down the cancer and give me more time with my children.
That's all I'm after."
Mrs Burkett, stricken with a BRCA2+ breast cancer which
affects just five per cent of all patients, is now trying to
raise the money to fly to Australia with her 43-year-old
husband Craig, who she calls her "rock", to meet with
specialists next month.
"I'm wanting to just give this promising drug a go in
Australia and see if the specialists there can help me in any
way. Anything is worth a go," said the former travel agent
who is originally from Rai Valley, 50kms from Nelson.
Mrs Burkett, who lost an aunty and cousin to breast cancer
last year, is also aware that her daughters Charli, 5, Holly,
6, and Paige, 9, have a 50 per cent of inheriting BRCA2+
gene. It puts them at risk of breast or ovarian cancer as
early as their 20s.
Doctors have given her expectations on how long she has. But
she "doesn't accept time frames".
The inspirational young mum would prefer to get active and do
as much as she can while she's able to.
"I feel I have time to put in place some things ... memories
that will be special for my children," she said.
She is busy compiling photo albums and planning trips away.
The Burketts hope to hire a campervan for an Easter
road-trip, and teaching her daughters to ski is also on her
"I don't have any grand ideas - I just want to spend time
with my kids," she said.
"We've got such a beautiful country and I would love to share
it with them.
"Craig and I went to Queenstown years ago for the ice
festival and I'd love to take them there.
"I want to do things where they'll think back and say, 'Hey,
remember when mum took us there ..."'