Cancer-stricken Mackay mother stuck abroad after contracting pneumonia during unforgettable holiday

A Queensland mother suffering from cancer’s journey has become a race against time to get her home to her family.

After Maud O’Brian was diagnosed with cancer, she and her husband Paul booked a three-week cruise to Hawaii from their hometown of Mackay.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: The family’s plea to bring sick mom home.

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A week into the cruise, Maud contracted the flu before being medically evacuated from the ship to Tahiti, where her condition rapidly deteriorated.

Doctors diagnosed Maud with a severe case of pneumonia which, on top of her pre-existing cancer, caused her health to rapidly deteriorate to a critical condition.

“It’s taken a toll on our family,” Maud’s daughter Ashleigh told

Ashleigh and her family launched a public appeal on GoFundMe when they were faced with thousands of dollars in medical bills as her mother was not covered by travel insurance due to her pre-existing medical condition.

Maud's journey that she had taken earlier in her life ended in a nightmare.
Maud’s trip of a lifetime ended in a nightmare. Credit: 7NEWS

“We feel like we can’t do anything from here, we feel trapped.”

A medical evacuation was arranged to Brisbane, via New Zealand, but Maud’s health deteriorated again on the first leg of the flight and her family were advised to keep her in Auckland hospital.

After a difficult start, Maud slowly began to improve and progress at Middlemore Hospital, where her family say she is well cared for.

“The staff at Auckland Hospital have been fantastic,” Ashleigh said.

“Not just mom, but dad as well, making sure she has a place to sleep next to her; we want to thank you for your kindness and support.”

Maud O'Brian's husband Paul and daughter Christine remain by her side in an Auckland hospital.
Maud O’Brian’s husband Paul and daughter Christine remain by her side in an Auckland hospital. Credit: 7NEWS

Maud’s family said she still has a long road ahead but, with continued improvement and support from the community, they hope to bring her home soon.

“Having people behind you gives you faith in humanity and has definitely helped,” Ashleigh said.

“We can’t thank the community enough, the messages and phone calls we’ve received; they’ve really helped us.”

Maud’s family said on their GoFundMe that they face substantial medical expenses, including a hospital bill of approximately $60,000, as well as other costs such as taxis, food and lodging.

“Your continued support is crucial as we go through this difficult time. “Your donations, prayers and well wishes have brought us hope and comfort during Mom’s recovery,” they said.