Thursday, 26 November 2015

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Tributes to Carlisle woman who died days after her 26th birthday

Emotional tributes have poured in for a young Carlisle woman whose courage in the face of terminal illness was truly inspirational.

Sam Don photo
Sam Don

Even after she knew there was no hope, Sam Don continued to smile and think first of other people.

She died at Eden Valley Hospice in Carlisle on Monday, just days after celebrating her 26th birthday with family and friends. She had been battling cancer of her spine.

The tragedy has triggered a flood of tributes on the social media website Facebook as the scores of people who knew her struggled to come to terms with her passing.

While many of her relatives and friends were too upset to speak, some were able to share their sorrow, and give a glimpse of her bubbly personality, and determination to make a difference.

They told how, even though she was gravely ill, Sam, from the Morton area of Carlisle, battled to raise funds for the ward at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital where she was treated for her cancer.

Friend Kelly Rogers, 30, said: “Sam was a truly lovely person – outgoing, fun, and always putting the needs of others before herself. She had a heart of gold.”

Kelly described how Sam’s friends took over her fundraising project after she became too ill, and how the group travelled to Newcastle a week ago to present the cheque. Helped by her friends, Sam raised more than £4,500.

Kelly said: “We were there when the doctors told her there was nothing else that they could do.

“Even then, she was thinking of us, and saying she didn’t want us sitting on our own and she smiled for the cheque photo just seconds after they told her they couldn’t do any more for her.

“She was a true fighter. She smiled right to the end. Sam kept going and we were able to celebrate her birthday last Friday at the hospice.”

Despite her serious condition, Sam made sure that the party for her friends and parents Maureen and Ken was a happy event.

Kelly said: “Everybody was laughing and joking and Sam wasn’t crying. We felt we didn’t have the right to cry because she was brave enough to keep smiling.”

The group made a video of the moment they gave Sam a birthday cake.

Another friend, Donna Graham, 44, said: “Sam was an inspirational person.

“She was always putting others before herself. While she was in hospital, she bought us all a glass angel holding a heart as a thank you for all we had done. You couldn’t help but love her.

“She was party animal – but always beautiful inside as well as out. She was only little but had the heart of a lion.”

Among the many tributes on Facebook was one from Jenna Barnes. She wrote: “Absolutely devastated this has happened. Sam Don: You are one of my best friends and I can’t imagine life without you.”

Friends at the Royal Scot pub in Morton also paid tribute yesterday.

Landlord Mike Grierson said: “She never broadcast her illness and it came as a shock to a lot of people. She was a lovely lass.”

Friends have been so inspired by Sam’s example, that they aim to raise funds for Even Valley Hospice, where they say staff did a brilliant job of caring for their friend while supporting those around her.

Sam, a qualified hairdresser, leaves her partner of eight years Stephen Douglas, 32, his daughters Lauren and Katie to whom Sam was an “amazing” stepmum; her sisters Kate and Kellie; and friends, such as second mum Ann Mathers, Claire Brumwell, Kerry Porter, Jenna Barnes, Shelly Connelly and Lindsey O’Neil.


Have your say

Maureen, I have just heard today about Sam and my heart goes out to you! I hadn't met Sam personally but passed her room every day for the past few months and saw her in bed poorly however we always talked about how she was... I was lost for words when I was told although it is a blessing that she is no longer in pain! Her sleepover that was planned sounded fun! Sending you all the love in the world and as a mother the strength to simply begin to breathe without your girl. You couldn't have looked after Sam more and she was so lucky to have you. I hope one day our paths cross again so I can simply put my arms around you... 3 more Chemo cycles for me but hopefully one day we can find a cure! Xx

Posted by Nicola & Steve Norton - Ward 34 on 7 August 2014 at 19:22

Absolutely gutted, you are a real star and were in life, my heart goes to you and you're battle n all your family and friends keep partying Sam sweet dreams xxxxxx

Posted by Madonna Howard on 5 August 2014 at 15:40

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