BRAVE Rachel Sanderson carried out her dying wish of marrying her partner, just three days before losing her fight for life.
After battling terminal cancer for years, Rachel was determined to fulfil her one wish of marrying her partner Glen, 35, and the couple were wed within hours.
On the morning, the East Boldon hairdresser told nurses at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital, where she was being treated, that she wanted to get married.
By the afternoon, her room had been transformed with balloons, banners and bows in time for the touching service.
At 3pm the same day, January 25, Rachel exchanged vows with her partner of five-and-a-half years from her hospital bed during an emotional and intimate ceremony.
Three days later, she died peacefully in her mum’s arms.
In 2002, Rachel started to feel tingling in her fingers and severe pain in her left shoulder.
However, medics dismissed it when ultrasound scans and X-rays came back clear.
In 2009, a lump developed on Rachel’s shoulder and further tests revealed she had rare cancer synovial sarcoma.
Rachel, who would have turned 33 yesterday, faced the tough choice of having her left shoulder and arm amputated or enduring gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Surgeons also operated on the tumour, which was the size of a large coffee mug, but discovered the cancer had spread to her lungs and brain.
In August 2010, Rachel was given the devastating news that the cancer was terminal.
Mum Sylvia Howey, 64, today paid tribute to her daughter.
“Rachel had always been determined to beat the cancer, but unfortunately she was unable to,” she said.
“I am so proud to have had Rachel as my daughter and her death has left a huge void in my life.
“She was my world and I could not have wished for a more caring daughter – she always thought of others before herself and was non-judgmental.
“Rachel was a stunningly-beautiful woman, both inside and out, she touched the heart of everyone.
“Her bubbly personality shone like a beacon and she lit a room when she entered it.
“She was an intelligent, witty, courageous, tenacious, inspirational, caring and loving young woman.
“I am desperately sad that she did not see her birthday and it is hard to put into words how life will be without her.
“She remained positive throughout and kept thinking of everyone else.
“Rachel said she was not ready to say goodbye and worried about what would happen to me, Glen and her best friend Matthew.
“No parent ever expects to go before their child and it has been a difficult time.
“But I know Rachel is now at peace.”