Fundraised for fu­neral

How could my daugh­ter be so brave?

Chat - - Contents - By Kerry Melville, 46, from Heysham, Lancs

Ihated see­ing my girl Sarah, then 21, suf­fer­ing. ‘It’s agony,’ she groaned. It was early 2011, and Sarah had started suf­fer­ing from shoot­ing pains in her right foot. It’s not fair, I thought. You see, things had never been easy for her.

Sarah had been born in June 1990 with hypochon­dropla­sia – a form of dwarfism.

A string of health prob­lems fol­lowed – rheuma­toid arthri­tis, a con­nec­tive tis­sue dis­or­der, asthma.

Doc­tors didn’t know why she was so poorly.

But Sarah was de­ter­mined to live a nor­mal life.

She’d worked in a cor­ner shop since she was 13, and be­came su­per­vi­sor later on.

Age 20, she moved in with her big sis­ter Melissa, then 26.

She was thrilled to be in­de­pen­dent. But her arthri­tis was crip­pling.

And when the foot pains started, doc­tors put it down to that.

Only, within months, Sarah could barely walk, had to give up work.

Fi­nally, in Septem­ber 2012, doc­tors re­ferred her for a biopsy.

And in De­cem­ber, I was driv­ing us to the su­per­mar­ket when her phone rang. ‘It’s the hospi­tal,’ she said. As she lis­tened, her face went white. Drop­ping the phone in her lap, she stared straight ahead.

‘I have syn­ovial sar­coma,’ she whis­pered. A rare soft-tis­sue can­cer. Speech­less, in shock, I al­most crashed the car.

The next day, I took Sarah to Manch­ester Hospi­tal.

A sur­geon told us there was a huge tu­mour in her foot, and it’d spread up her heel. But that wasn’t all. ‘The tu­mour is too big to re­move,’ he said.

They’d have to am­pu­tate her right foot.

‘I can’t be­lieve it,’ Sarah wept.

I held her as the news sank in.

But, brave as ever, she was de­ter­mined to sol­dier on.

An MRI was booked for Jan­uary 2013, and we knew the am­pu­ta­tion would fol­low soon af­ter.

But, on Christ­mas Day the fol­low­ing week, I didn’t even get a chance to see my younger chil­dren, Cal­lum, then 16, Martina, 14, Cor­rie, 6, and Rosie, 3, open their presents...

Sarah had been poorly the evening be­fore and at 7am she called me. ‘I feel aw­ful, Mum,’ she said. I rushed round, took her to the Royal Lan­caster In­fir­mary.

But as I opened her car door, she pan­icked. ‘I can’t walk,’ she stam­mered. Grab­bing a wheel­chair, I rushed her into the wait­ing room. ‘Help!’ I shouted. Then I no­ticed red dots all over Sarah’s arms and neck.

Lift­ing up her

T-shirt, my heart stopped. They were ev­ery­where. A nurse dashed over to look and Sarah was rushed into In­ten­sive Care.

The next few hours and days were a blur.

Sarah was di­ag­nosed with meningo­coc­cal sep­ti­caemia – a com­bi­na­tion of blood poi­son­ing and menin­gi­tis.

The doc­tor told me to call fam­ily and let them know.

‘She may not make it,’ he said.

Dis­traught, I called every­one, barely able to get my words out.

I kept a bed­side vigil, while my mum El­iz­a­beth looked af­ter the younger kids. They vis­ited. ‘When is Sarah com­ing home?’ Rosie asked, too young to un­der­stand.

Some­how, Sarah got through the worst.

But the in­fec­tion had stopped the blood flow to her limbs – and by Jan­uary, her fin­gers and legs were black.

Then she caught gan­grene.

‘We need to am­pu­tate both legs be­low the knee,’ the doc­tor said. ‘OK,’ Sarah sobbed. It was a dras­tic move. But it’d get rid of the can­cer, too, and it was the only way to save her life.

Sarah was trans­ferred to Pre­ston Hospi­tal, where sur­geons op­er­ated for more than 10 hours.

My heart pounded as she was taken to the Crit­i­cal Care Unit. She’s OK, I thought, re­lieved. But af­ter a month of in­ten­sive care, Sarah needed her right arm and the end of her fin­gers on her left re­moved. It was a long re­cov­ery. Sarah spent months in hospi­tal learning how to use pros­thet­ics.

We had the house adapted – and, fi­nally, in Novem­ber 2013, Sarah came home. My mum helped me care for her.

Sarah still needed reg­u­lar check­ups – but for the next few years, she tried to en­joy life.

‘I’m lucky to be here,’ she’d smile.

She’d visit friends, spend time with her sib­lings.

Only, this March, Sarah started cough­ing up blood.

Pan­icked, I rushed her to hospi­tal, where scans showed large shad­ows in Sarah’s lungs. Then an MRI con­firmed it. ‘The sar­coma is back,’ the on­col­o­gist said.

There were tu­mours in her lungs and through her whole body. It was ter­mi­nal. I broke down. My beau­ti­ful daugh­ter had al­ready been through hell. Now this?

‘How long do I have?’ Sarah whis­pered as I held her.

‘Three to six months,’ the on­col­o­gist replied. My whole world shat­tered. Sarah was 27, and dy­ing. ‘I’ve got to make the most of the time I’ve got left,’ she wept that evening.

Telling the chil­dren was tough. They were dis­traught.

So we tried to make the most of ev­ery mo­ment.

But Sarah’s health de­te­ri­o­rated quickly.

‘I want to plan and fund my own fu­neral, so you don’t have to worry,’ she said one day. ‘No!’ I gasped. Still, Sarah was adamant.

Over the next few weeks, Martina started a fundrais­ing page and Sarah planned a star­shaped head­stone, a bur­gundy theme, speeches...

They’d soon raised nearly £5,000. I was so proud. But by May, Sarah was strug­gling to get out of bed. Ev­ery move­ment was agony. And on 18 May, my dar­ling girl passed away peace­fully in her sleep. I’m heart­bro­ken. But I didn’t want Sarah to suf­fer any more.

My beau­ti­ful girl had been brave enough al­ready.

She had al­ready been through hell. Now this?

Her legs turned black Af­ter her op

Proud mum My girl coped so well with ev­ery­thing

Sarah: she made the most of ev­ery day

The long road to re­cov­ery

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