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Terminally ill Kiwi woman fights for last chance at life

Published: 7:20AM Sunday October 05, 2014 Source: Sunday

  • Angela and Raymond Sunkel. (Source: Sunday)
    Angela and Raymond Sunkel. - Source: Sunday

A Waikato woman is refusing to give up hope after being told she cannot have potentially life-saving treatment in New Zealand.

Newly-wed Angela Sunkel must travel to America for her last chance at life - a second stem cell transplant.

Mrs Sunkel underwent a transplant in Auckland in 2010, after being diagnosed with myelomonocytic leukemia at age 25.

Find out more about Ms Sunkel's fight story here.

"They take you as close to death as possible and then build you back up. It's pretty hard thing to go through.''

The trained naturopath took a year to recover and then went travelling through Europe, after being told by her specialist she had an 80 per cent chance of survival.

However two years later, her cancer came back and progressed to acute myeloid leukaemia. She has undergone six rounds of chemotherapy in the past year.

Doctors initially agreed to do a rare second transplant, with donor cells that had been saved from her first transplant.

But a few days before the procedure was scheduled, in May 2013, Mrs Sunkel was told her cancer had changed and doctors did not think the transplant would work.

"It was a real emotional rollercoaster,'' she recalls. ''The doctor said 'that's it', that I had less than 12 months.''

In the past year, Mrs Sunkel has continued to defy the odds, undergoing six rounds of chemotherapy and surviving a brain bleed.

Throughout her illness she has been supported by long-time love Raymond, a Hamilton police detective.

Mr Sunkel has taken leave from work to support his wife and help raise the $1.3 million they need to get to Seattle for treatment before Christmas.

He acknowledges the huge effort to raise the money through fundraising events in the Waikato, and through the givealittle.co.nz website.

"We don't ask that people don't give to others, we just simply ask that they would give to give Angela a chance.

"She's such an incredible person that she deserves a chance, or a fighting chance at least.''

The pair's extraordinary love story is told on Sunday tonight, TV One at 7pm.

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