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Jacob Macak was told he’d developed deep vein thrombosis after flying back from Europe given six to eight months to live.
Not believing that verdict, he and his Brazilian wife, Lilia Rossana, 36, raised $75,000 in just six days, via a GoFundMe campaign, to get treatment at the internationally-renowned Hope4Cancer clinic in Mexico.
As borders closed, they just made it to Cancun for a three-week programme.
After then waiting in Mexico for flights to resume, they made it to the Czech Republic early last month, where Macak died in his wife’s arms on June 22.
Rossana says he deteriorated quickly after four days in hospital where he was told, as he’d been told in New Zealand, there was nothing doctors could do.
“We had hope until the very last second.”
She’s flying to Brazil this Saturday to spend a month or two with her family before returning to Queenstown with her hubby’s ashes.
“I’m really sad, of course I miss his physical presence a lot, but I’m also at peace because I know we really tried our best.”
Rossana says Macak was very clear his purpose in life was to create something beautiful and share – “he has achieved his goal”.
“Inspired by Jacob’s life, our goal is to share his positive energy, strength, kindness and love.
“He was always ready to help out and make someone’s day better.”
Two years ago, the couple married three times – at the Queenstown courthouse, in Brazil and in the woods near Glenorchy.
Rossana says building their tiny house together was their biggest achievement.
Armed with a masters degree in electrical engineering, Macak originally arrived in NZ in 2016, following his best friend and his brother.
For three years he worked at Queenstown’s Tansley Electrical, originally as a fire alarm technician, then in a supervisory role.
“He was a great employee, always bringing life to the office,” manager Scott Nicholson says.
“He had a wee ‘howl’ when he walked into the office – he did that about 16 times a day.”
Macak then joined Cosgroves as a fire engineer last September.
Director Brady Cosgrove says: “He provided references that were glowing about his positive, happy attitude, trustworthy, hardworking nature and remarkable resourcefulness – all of which he demonstrated in his few months with us.
“We found Jacob to be a remarkable man in many ways, and a very sad loss to all of us who knew him.”