The widower of a non-smoking mum has vowed to tackle the belief that lung cancer only affects smokers following her death on Christmas Day.
Debbie Platts died at home in Sapcote at the age of 45 on Christmas morning, after a two year battle with lung cancer.
The selfless former nurse, and mum of three daughters, shared her story through a popular blog and Facebook Page as she wanted to comfort and support others living with the illness.
Sam said she remained positive right until the end despite becoming almost unable to walk, Leicestershire Live reports.
“It’s been a rough couple of years but the last few months have been really rough. Her illness took over quite a lot towards the end”, he said.
The 37-year-old said he is determined to keep raising awareness of lung cancer, as people misconceive that it’s a smoker’s illness, whereas Debbie never smoked.
Paying tribute to same, who he married in summer 2018, he said: “She was beautiful, she was amazing, she was the nicest, most caring woman I met. She was brilliant, always smiling, even at the end.”
Debbie first became ill in February 2018 when she woke up one morning with excruciating back pain and a chest infection.
As her pain persisted, she decided to get checked out and a CT scan and biopsy revealed she had a mass on her left lung.
Doctors told Debbie and Sam the devastating news that she had terminal cancer which could only be managed by treatment.
Debbie was determined to carry on with life as normal and created a Facebook page, Nurse with the big “C”urse, where she regularly posted photos and updates about her treatment and future plans.
She said last year: “I didn’t want sympathy or pity, I just wanted my story to be heard, because when you are given a diagnosis like this, you can have all your close family and friends with you but still feel so isolated, scared and alone.”
She spoke of the challenge of living with cancer, saying: “It’s one of the last things I think of at night and within minutes of being awake, it’s there at the forefront of my mind.
“I try to distract myself thinking of all the wonderful things I am yet to experience and places I need to visit. It helps me to cope.
“I need those goals to aim towards so that on the bad days, it’s my loved ones, goals and memories that get me through.”
After Debbie and Sam got married they spent time in Ibiza and Rhodes, despite her illness.
Her family announced her death with a post on the Facebook page.
It urged people to “hold on to everyone you love a little tighter and a little longer tonight and never take the good times for granted because life can be so cruel and snatch those precious moments away.”
Sam said: “We still did Christmas dinner and everyone came round. In fact, more people came round than we expected.
“We had about 25 to 35 people. It’s what she would have wanted.”
Her funeral at South Leicestershire crematorium was attended by around 300 people where Chanel read out a poem that was written especially for the occasion.
Sam and around 30 family friends are taking part in a charity bike ride from Leicester to Skegness in aid of Loros Hospice, who provided care for Debbie in her final weeks.
They also plan to keep the blog and Facebook page going.
Asked what advice he would give to a family whose loved one had just been given a terminal cancer diagnosis, Sam said: “Everyone takes things differently, it’s such a hard thing to deal with.
“You have to try and be as positive as possible. Look into all the options you have got.
“Hope is a wonderful thing, keep it with you all the way.
"If you let things get on top of you, things can deteriorate more quickly.
“We had bad news and bad news, but Debbie always stayed positive.”
For the latest updates from the family, visit the Nurse with the big “C”urse Facebook page.
Visit the Loros Hospice website for more information about the charity bike ride.
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