Woman diagnosed with terminal cancer was unsure if she'd live long enough to graduate video

Murray Wilson/Stuff

Alison MacKenzie, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer, graduates from UCOL with a bachelor of information and communications technology.

A woman diagnosed with terminal cancer did not know if she would live long enough to see her graduation.

Alison MacKenzie graduated from UCOL in Palmerston North on Tuesday, but just weeks earlier her world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Stuff broke news of her story after Palmerston North Hospital failed to pick up her cancer despite regular visits since 2013.

Alison MacKenzie has graduated from UCOL with an IT qualification, a day she feared she would never get to experience.
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Alison MacKenzie has graduated from UCOL with an IT qualification, a day she feared she would never get to experience.

The hospital finally picked up the disease in February but instead of offering support it turfed her out, simply telling her she had weeks to live.

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It added insult to injury by then telling her chemotherapy would not be a good option and that they would rather spend money on others.

Alison MacKenzie was shocked to learn she had bowel cancer after multiple doctor's visits left her with no indication ...
MURRAY WILSON/FAIRFAX NZ

Alison MacKenzie was shocked to learn she had bowel cancer after multiple doctor's visits left her with no indication anything was wrong.

So on a day when MacKenzie should have been celebrating, there were mixed feelings.

"I did not know if I was going to even make it today," she said.

MidCentral DHB offered no explanation for its actions when questioned by Stuff. However, MacKenzie has since begun chemotherapy.

She and her husband had both dreamed of starting new careers to support their young children.

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But now those dreams are on hold as MacKenzie concentrates on her treatment.

It had not been an easy road getting to graduation, and a refresher course in teaching had stalled.

"I had to drop out because I just could not do it."

MacKenzie has had good days and bad days but said she was feeling good at her graduation.

"I'm enjoying the graduation and seeing everyone."

After three years of study, she graduated with a bachelor of information and communications technology.

She was restricted to a wheelchair, but had family by her side.

MacKenzie had finished near the top of her class.

However, now she was just trying to appreciate every day she could spend with family

Her husband Dion MacKenzie said the cancer diagnosis had been a shock.

"Everything we planned for is gone."

Though the hospital's initial treatment had been poor, MacKenzie said he was heartened by the public's reaction to their story.

"Yes, I have lost my faith in the system, but I have not lost my faith in humanity.

"People want change. It gives you hope."

The couple are planning a family trip together to Australia to create memories for their children and a Givealittle page has been set up to help fundraise.

The couple had been blown away by the response to the page, which had generated more than $10,000.

 - Stuff

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