Terminally ill Palmerston North grandmother on bucket list mission video

WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Diagnosed with terminal lung cancer 18 months ago, Debra Morris wants to tick off as much of her bucket list as possible with the help of her daughter Natelle, who is raising money through Givealittle.

A Palmerston North grandmother has decided to spend her final days laughing in the face of death, and ticking off as much of her bucket list as possible.

Debra Morris was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer 18 months ago, and her daughter Natelle Smith has launched a Giveallittle campaign to fund her bucket list mission.

From racing cars to swimming with dolphins and seeing the Northern Lights, Smith wanted to give her mother something to aim for and look forward to.

Natelle Smith, left, is raising money through Givealittle to fund her mum Debra Morris' mission to tick off her bucket ...
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Natelle Smith, left, is raising money through Givealittle to fund her mum Debra Morris' mission to tick off her bucket list before cancer claims her life.

"I just want to make sure Mum has the best time of her life, with the time she's got left."

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Morris said she has good days and bad days, where she swings between acceptance and terror at her fate. 

But she's learnt finding joy in the little things helps, and she's embraced humour wherever she can find it. 

"A lot of people pussyfoot around it, but I don't have time for that. You've got to laugh, because what else can you do?"

Morris said she was paralysed with fear and disbelief when doctors told her she would die within six months.

"I couldn't react, except for the tears coming out of my eyes."

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Morris mourned herself alongside her family, got all her affairs in order – then suddenly she realised it had been seven months and she should be dead already, she said.

"And I'm still here, for now, so every new day's a blessing from now on."

She decided she wouldn't waste them, and drew up her bucket list to help with that.

"I know I probably won't get through all of them, but it's worth a shot."

The list ranges from the simple "give lots of hugs", to the adventurous – a hot lap in a race car, swim with the dolphins, or travel to see the Northern Lights.

There's also the poignant – writing letters, cards and recording special messages for important times in her six grandchildren's lives, as well as seeing a long-lost best friend one last time.

Morris said every single item was something she'd wanted to do, but put off for work, raising a family, or otherwise planning for the future.

That's the one good thing about having no future – you don't have to worry about it any more, so there's nothing stopping you from going for your dreams, she said.

 - Stuff

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