Pike River victim's widow fighting cancer head on as she continues quest for 'justice' for miners

A self-described shy and quiet woman, who came out of her shell in a fight for justice for her husband killed in the Pike River mine almost nine years ago is now using her inner strength to battle cancer, as her "unfinished" Pike River fight continues.

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Ms Osborne, who lost her husband in the West Coast disaster spoke with John Campbell today. Source: Breakfast

Anna Osborne talked to TVNZ1's Breakfast host John Campbell today as family members of those who died prepare to enter 170 metres of the mine - the furthest anyone has gone since the explosions took the lives of 29 men on November 19, 2010.

But there's another reason why today is a big day for Ms Osborne.

On Breakfast today she opened up about her joint battle, not only for justice for the men who died in the disaster, but also her health fight with Hodgkin's lymphoma - a type of lymphoma in which cancer originates from a specific type of white blood cells called lymphocytes.

Ms Osborne will travel to Christchurch this afternoon and undergo major treatment Saturday for the illness.

"I've had it for quite some time, it's got to the stage now though where it's starting to act aggressively and it's spread to other parts of my body," she said.

"So for me to actually have any chance of living another four or five years I've actually got to go through with this treatment or else they've given me months to a year to live.

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The families were accompanied by Minister Andrew Little, who said this was just the "first step" in getting the miners home. Source: 1 NEWS

"I've really got to kick this in the ass, John, because I've got so much living to do and I've got so much unfinished business with Pike [River] that yeah, I've just got to beat this."

Ms Osborne said before the Pike River explosions though she was always a quiet and shy person.

"But you lose someone that you love totally unnecessarily and there's been no justice and accountability - I just couldn't sit back and just say "oh well". You know, you've got to actually get in there and try and fight for truth and justice because those men deserve so much better than what they got.

"Nine years on, we're still waiting to bring about justice for them, so you've got this inner strength that just comes out when needed."

Ms Osborne said today was a big milestone for the families making their way in the tunnel to 170 metres. 

In the aftermath of "many, many dark days", she said it was an exciting one today.

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Today contractors worked on removing a 30m concrete barrier into the mine. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's a huge day for the majority of the families that are going to make the trip up there today."

But it was not without nerves and anxiety, she added. It's expected to be cold, and wet as they travel down the tunnel on a drift runner - but each family will be accompanied by a mining expert as a guide.

"What we wanted to do was just fight as hard as we could to actually get some results and out fighting paid off. We've actually managed to get the [Pike River Recovery] Agency up and running and the drift reentered so it's huge."

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Anna Osborne and Sonya Rockhouse spoke to 1 NEWS ahead of the planned re-entry on May 21, 2019. Source: 1 NEWS