An inspirational Hartlepool woman lost her battle with cancer just days after giving birth and marrying the love of her life.
Courageous Tracey Keers, nee Brown, had to deliver her daughter, Kyla, prematurely at 28 weeks, after it was discovered she had terminal cancer.
Tracey, 33, and her husband, Steven, who also have a seven-year-old son, Kieran, held their wedding ceremony at the end of March in James Cook University Hospital.
She died in his arms on Sunday.
Steven said his wife was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and underwent a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy before going into remission in July 2017.
He said: “We knew we wanted another baby, so we had IVF treatment and successfully had 13 eggs frozen. But she fell pregnant naturally in September and we were absolutely elated because we didn’t think that would happen.”
She was my best friend, we were always togetherSteven Keers
However, the Seaton Carew couple’s joy was short lived as Tracey began to have severe headaches and sickness and 24 weeks into her pregnancy doctors broke the devastating news that Tracey’s cancer had returned and was terminal.
Steven said: “They gave her three to six months but, Tracey being Tracey, she never gave up and was always fighting.”
Four weeks later Tracey started having seizures and doctors needed to deliver Kyla, weighing 2lb, by caesarean section on March 19.
Steven, who works for a games company, said: “They said she might not wake up from the c-section, but luckily she did come through it.
“Tracey was so worried that she might never get to see her daughter, but she did.”
Just over a week later on March 30, Good Friday, the couple were married at the hospital.
Steven, 35, said: “The staff said because it was a weekend we could use the day room. I wanted to make it as special as I could for her, so I contacted friends and we had the room all decorated. A bridal shop donated a dress and I got suits for me and Kieran. I think she was quite shocked when she saw the room.”
However, Tracey continued to deteriorate and on Sunday her breathing started to change.
Steven said: “I got up onto the bed and held Tracey in my arms with her head on my chest and she passed away peacefully.
“When I had to tell Kieran it was the hardest thing in the world I have ever had to do, it was heartbreaking.
Although they had been together for ten years, Steven and Tracey knew each other as pupils at Brierton School.
Steven said: “She was my best friend, we were always together. We didn’t go out much, we were happy at home, we were family people.
“I slept by her bed at the hospital for four weeks because I didn’t want to leave her, so it is hitting my now I am home and it seems so so quiet.”
Her funeral service will be held on Thursday, April 19, at 1.30pm at Holy Trinity Church in Seaton Carew, and anyone is welcome to go along.
Steven has asked people to wear something pink or purple, Tracey’s favourite colours.
He said: “People don’t have to wear black, she was a colourful person and she wouldn’t want the traditional all black funeral.”
Tracey’s beloved pet dog Harley will even be attending the funeral wearing a pink collar.
Steven said the family wants to thank all the incredible staff at James Cook hospital who cared for Tracey and are still looking after Kyla, who will be in hospital for another two months and instead of flowers for the funeral people are being asked to give donations to the premature baby unit.
When Tracey Keers was first diagnosed with cancer she started a blog about her journey to help people understand the impact of the illness.
She had triple-negative breast cancer, which is one of the most severe forms of the disease.
The secondary cancer was leptomeningeal carcinomatosis, which is a rare complication of cancer in which the disease spreads to the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
It affects about 5% of patients with cancer.
Steven said throughout his wife’s illness she tried to help others.
He said: “She would always put other people first, that is just the way she was.
“The main thing she wanted to get across to women is that no matter what their age, if they think there is something wrong then don’t put off and go to the doctors.
“It just sucks that this would happen to her, she didn’t deserve it. She just wanted to live.
“Tracey made a lot of friends through her cancer treatment and when she was well, she spent a lot of her time supporting others going through it.
“My phone has not stopped ringing with calls and messages. She was so well loved, I don’t think she realised just how highly thought of she was.”
Always thinking of others, brave Tracey, who worked at Durham University, even set up her own fund-raising page, www.gofundme.com/59rkwkw, before she died, so Steven and her family didn’t have to worry about funeral costs.
To read Tracey’s blog visit mysurvivalstoryweb.wordpress.com.