FIGHTING to the end, Sharon Forster died surrounded by her loving family.
The 36-year-old inspired those around her to be strong, as she fought against the breast cancer which ravaged her body.
Though the disease stole her health, it could not affect her spirit and today her devastated family paid tribute to the mum-of-one who always “wore a smile.”
Her mum Chris Johnston, 58, said: “She never had a pity-me attitude.
“There was just a glow about Sharon. She has left a massive void in our lives.
“She inspired us to be strong because she was.”
The ex-hairdresser from Roker had already beaten the disease once after being diagnosed at 29.
But in a cruel twist, just short of being in remission, the cancer returned in the base of her spine.
In 2008, Sharon, who was married to childhood sweetheart John, 40, and her close-knit family were dealt the devastating blow that nothing more could be done to rid her body of the cancer.
On Friday, after the disease had spread to her liver, the former Monkwearmouth School pupil died at her parents’ home in Carlcroft, Roker.
Her strength of character lives on in daughter Georgia-Mae, 11, who has helped the family to cope with the ordeal.
Chris, who is married to Ray, said: “Sharon never hid anything from Georgia.
“She was first diagnosed when Georgia was three so she has grown up with her mam being in and out of hospital.
“She says that it’s not her mam’s funeral tomorrow, it’s a celebration.”
Sharon, who used to own Upper Cuts hair salon in North Hylton Road, featured in the Echo last year after winning a makeover competition.
She used the story as a platform to encourage other cancer patients to be wary of the disease returning.
Chris said: “She felt so strongly about warning people about secondary cancer, about making sure that if you know something’s not right, to push for an answer.”
Before being diagnosed, Sharon had been a hairdresser for 10 years and her bubbly personality won her a strong customer following.
Chris said: “She devoted her life to making other people look good. She had such a creative flair and radiance about her.
“Her customers made her working life a joy.”
When the cancer eventually took its toll on Sharon’s body, she asked that she go to her parents’ home for her final days.
She did not want to die at her home in Clockstand Close in case it gave Georgia negative memories of the house.
There, she was cared for by Macmillan Nurses. The family want to thank them and the day chemotherapy unit at Sunderland Royal, for their support.
Chris said: “We have found some comfort in the fact she got to come home. She wanted to be home, she wanted to be cosy.”
Sharon also leaves brothers Raymond, 40, Mark, 31 and Craig, 26.
* Her funeral will take place tomorrow at St Peter’s Church at 10.40am.