A terminally ill woman determined to spend one last vacation with her family was left with $52,000 in medical bills after having to be flown by air ambulance back to Ontario from the Bahamas.

Kitchener, Ont. resident Shirley Duff, diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer last January, fell ill after a blockage in her catheter caused an infection just two days into a cruise destined for Nassau.

After being admitted to hospital in Nassau, Duff was told she was too sick to fly home on a commercial flight and would need to be transported back to Ontario via an air ambulance.

Because of Duff’s terminal diagnosis, she was not eligible to buy medical insurance for the trip, leaving her family with more than $52,000 in medical bills.

“It was supposed to be our nice last little family get together,” Duff’s son told CTV Kitchener, describing the ordeal as “financially insurmountable.”

“We had to empty out our accounts to pay them,” the woman’s daughter added.

Duff, whose cancer has spread to her brain, liver, and lymph nodes, has been given a year to live. Despite her condition and being unable to buy insurance for the trip, she said she was determined to make the most of the time she has left with her family.

“[It was] something special for the kids, to give them a really nice memory,” Duff said.

A GoFundMe campaign started by Duff’s daughter has already raised more than $13,500 in support of the family.