‘He fought the tumour laughing and singing’ – family remember brave dad

Lee Conteh with wife Berna Conteh
Lee Conteh with wife Berna Conteh
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THE family of a dad-of-four who died from a brain tumour are organising a fund-raising night in his memory.

Lee Conteh was diagnosed with cancer in October 2011 after collapsing at his home in Easington Lane.

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The self-employed window fitter had surgery to remove two thirds of the 3cm tumour, but was told he needed a miracle to survive.

He died on August 18 at Durham’s St Cuthbert’s Hospice, just months after he wed partner of 25 years Berna in a bedside ceremony.

Berna, 46, along with friends Lorraine and Garry Burlinson, have now pledged to raise cash for the hospice.

She said: “Lee lasted 10 months when he wasn’t expected to.

“He fought the tumour laughing and singing. You could tell when he was getting worse because he couldn’t finish a song.

“He went into the hospice on August 12 and died there on August 18.

“Inbetween the wedding on January 21 and him passing away our grandson, Lee Rhymes, was born on April 18.

“Lee was devastated that he couldn’t see the baby, who was named after him, but was happy just to hold him.

“That time was so crazy, so much happened, and the hospice were fantastic.

“I had nursed Lee at home until I couldn’t care for him anymore.

“You pray for them to survive, then you pray for them to die because they go back almost to being a baby.

“Lee said he would go whenever we were ready for him to, and we were then.”

Lee was sent home from two hospitals and told he was suffering from migraines before he collapsed.

After his operation he had five chemotherapy sessions, before starting to get infections.

Lee lost the ability to work, his mobility deteriorated and he went blind.

The 46-year-old was buried in Grays Chapel, Easington Lane, on August 23.

“I don’t think I would have coped without friends and family,” said Berna.

“I have had so much support. Some people don’t have that. I don’t know how they manage.”

Now the widow, a support worker for people with autism, is raising money for charity in Lee’s memory with the help of family, including the couple’s three children Ebony, 23, Kurtis, 21, and Lee, 18, and Lee’s daughter Leeanne, 25, and niece Georgie Terry, 25, and friends Lorraine Burlinson, 43, and Garry Burlinson, 45, both from Easington.

Berna has already managed to raise about £1,000 for the hospice.

“I wanted to raise money in Lee’s memory because of the work the hospice did,” she said.

“The staff were amazing and I want to keep raising money so they can keep helping people.”

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull