The mother of a 43-year-old Fredericton woman who died last week after contracting the H1N1 flu wants to tell people the flu needs to be taken seriously.

Shawna McNally died Jan. 8 after her body weakened from drug abuse years ago couldn't battle the effects of H1N1.

"I just want people to understand from a personal point of view, from a mother's point of view, that this is serious, that we need to take this more seriously," said McNally's mother, Marie Crouse. "

'This can happen, and this can happen to you.' - Marie Crouse, mother of H1N1 flu victim Shawna McNally

"This can happen, and this can happen to you, and no mother should have to go through what I'm going through."

McNally had two daughters and a granddaughter. Three years ago, she became seriously ill after years of drug use.

It was in the hospital she reconnected with Marguerite Noel, her former mother-in-law.

"She wore her heart on her sleeve," said Noel. "I"ll miss her smile. She always had a big smile, throw her head back when she smiled.

"She went from daughter-in-law to daughter-in-heart," said Noel. "She was part of me. I felt that I lost a daughter."

Marguerite Noel

Marguerite Noel says her former daughter-in-law had turned her life around, but years of drug abuse left Shawna McNally's body too weak to battle the H1N1 flu virus. (CBC)

Noel says McNally had turned her life around, but she had a weakened immune system from years of drug abuse when she caught the flu in December.

"When she contracted this virus her body was already very weak," said Noel.

McNally fought going to the hospital for about a week. When she finally went,  she was immediately placed in the intensive care unit and lost consciousness.

"The other doctor that was on call brought me in and showed me her chest x-rays, and it was totally black," said Noel. "There was nothing that was healthy.

"So the lungs were going, her kidneys were shutting down, she was bleeding from the stomach," she said. "It's almost like putting Band-aids here and there. Oh fix this, oh fix that. It was really touch and go all the way through."

Noel and McNally had talked in the past about her getting a flu shot, but she never did.

"I talked to her about it, but she said, `I am allergic to it. I can't have that.'"