Ioana (Vonn) Tiaaleaiga with her three children Xavier, 5, Harmony, 4, and Loriel, 2 before she died from a rare cancer last month.
Ioana (Vonn) Tiaaleaiga with her three children Xavier, 5, Harmony, 4, and Loriel, 2 before she died from a rare cancer last month.

'I love you mum': Heartbreak $5k battle after sudden death

SOMETIMES five-year-old Xavier stands in the yard at night looking up to the stars, telling his mum how much he loves her, and wishes her goodnight.

Xavier's mum Ioana Tiaaleaiga, known as Vonn to her friends, tragically died last month from a rare type of cancer.

Xavier and his older sister went to live with their mum's close friends, Cassie and Tiffany Brooking, who have squeezed the children into their Purga home.

The youngest Loriel, 2, has gone to live with her father.

Not only has the couple taken on the responsibility of caring for Xavier and four-year-old Harmony, as well as their own toddler, they're struggling to face the $5000 bill for the funeral costs.

It's on top of growing household costs, including getting to and from school every day, while they continue to pay down their own debts to the tune of $100,000 spent on IVF treatments.

Both Cassie and Tiffany work full-time, and childcare worker Cassie is about to take on a second hospitality job to help cover the bills.

Their grocery bill has gone from about $100 a week to about $300.

Vonn died from Ewing Sarcoma - a type of bone cancer that more commonly affects teenagers.

It followed a whirlwind diagnosis in August and treatment plan in which Vonn underwent surgery to remove a mass in her lung, along with chemotherapy.

But the cancer spread and on June 24 Vonn died. She was laid to rest on Friday, June 28.

Vonn was the sole carer for her three children and would have turned 30 in December.

"We've known Vonn for a long time," Cassie said.

"She was our friend and the kids were already spending so much time with us. Everything was so sudden.

"It was really rough at first but now we have ourselves and the kids into a routine, things are much better."

But Cassie and Tiffany had a tough time explaining to the children that mummy wouldn't be coming back.

"We took them the week before she died because we didn't know what would happen," Cassie said.

"We explained to the kids... at first they were asking to go to mummy's house but they also sort of already knew - mummy is no longer here and you aren't going home.

"(Having them) with us feels normal.

"I have been really involved in these kids' lives since when they were really little. You look at them, and feel sad because they are so little and never got to grow up with their mum but she lives on, in their memories and in them.

"We are just glad we have them. That they will always have a good home and a good life where they will be loved. And that's the most important thing; they love us, and we love them."

Cassie and Tiffany are struggling to pay the funeral expenses. Here's how you can help: https://www.gofundme. com/nikki-mclay or search on GoFundMe: Bring Ioana (Vonn) home to her children

What is Ewing Sarcoma?

Ewing tumours that start in the bone are known as Ewing or Ewing's sarcomas.

Ewing sarcoma can develop at any age, but most commonly occur during a person's early teenage years. In contrast to osteosarcoma which occurs mostly at the ends of our bones, the most common sites of tumour development are in the middle of the hip bones, the rib cage, shoulder blades and the legs.

Source: Australian Cancer Research Foundation