Weakened from a summer of chemotherapy, Jo McKenzie-McLean decided to keep her life jacket on as she and two friends took what was to be a quick dip in a Central Otago lake.

The decision would save all three’s lives, after the wind blew their boat away – and attempts to swim after it left the friends exhausted.

And while they later laughed at the idea of a stage four cancer patient, who’d had chemotherapy just hours earlier, rescuing “two fully-abled healthy men”, they consider her a hero for calmly towing both to shore.

“You are gasping for that last breath, and you know there is nothing you can do about it, and you have to accept your fate,” said one of the friends, fellow Stuff journalist Marc Greenhill.

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