Non-Smoking Mom and Dad Diagnosed With Terminal Lung Cancer in 5 Months

A New Zealand family has been inundated with donations after a mother and father were both diagnosed with advanced lung cancer within months of one another.

Graham Brooke-Smith, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in January and was told that the disease had spread to his spine. The dad is on cancer medication in order to give him as much time with his family as possible. Without medical insurance, it's expected to cost the family $100,000, according to a fundraising page.

However, Graham's wife, Mery, was also diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in May, just months after her husband's diagnosis. In her case, the cancer is even more aggressive, having spread to both her spine and thigh bone and requiring surgery. Her care is expected to cost $90,000 over six months with an additional $2,200 per month afterward.

Couple hold hands at appointment
A stock photo depicts a couple holding hands at an appointment. A fundraiser has been launched for the mom and dad of a New Zealand family who were both diagnosed with cancer. vadimguzhva/Getty

Graham's employer has launched a campaign on the New Zealand crowdfunding platform Give A Little, and the family has been shocked by the support.

"The phenomenal outpouring of love and support has been nothing short of amazing," a July 14 update posted on the crowdfunding page read. "It has been a week since the page first went up. We never expected the response to be so immediate and so generous."

As of Tuesday morning ET, the crowdfunding campaign had reached just over $300,000 of its $315,000 goal, which the organizers say is enough to cover the family's first year of treatment and will also go towards covering the anticipated costs of the second year of treatment.

Amid the outpouring of support, Mery has successfully undergone surgery to reinforce her thigh bone that has been affected by cancer and will go on to start chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments.

"With just chemotherapy, we're looking at two years. With the whole treatment, we can be around for four or more years," Graham said, according to New Zealand news outlet Stuff.

"When you face adversaries, it challenges resilience and you choose how resilient you can be. We've decided to be overcomers, for our children."

It's unknown how both Graham and Mery were diagnosed with the same type of cancer within months of one another.

Stage 4 cancer is a classification that means the cancer has spread to other organs of the body. It may also be known as advanced or metastatic cancer, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology's Cancer.net website.

In contrast, stage 1 cancer usually refers to a cancer that has not grown deeply into nearby tissues and may be referred to as early-stage cancer.