A TERMINALLY-ill South Tyneside mum given only 12 months to live is organising her own wake.
Debbie Dearden has recently been diagnosed with bone cancer and a brain tumour, but doctors have said there’s little they can do.
Now, rather than dwell on her health, the 48-year-old is planning to make the most of the time she has left with her nine-year-old daughter, Aimmie, by creating a special memory box.
She is also organising her own fundraising wake, and will continue working as a manager for Careline Homecare Ltd, based in South Shields.
Debbie, of Parkway Estate, South Shields, said: “In a way I guess I am lucky, because now I can do all the things that I need to do – some people don’t have this chance, and not many get to go to their own wake.
“I am also going to show Aimmie that dying doesn’t have to be a sad experience – there are positives which can come from it too.
“If I can help others through fundraising, or perhaps encourage people to get their symptoms checked out, then some good will have come from this.” Debbie first noticed something was wrong when her speech became slurred last October while on holiday in Puerto Rico.
Once she was home, tests were carried out and a scan revealed she had a brain tumour plus a lesion in her lung.
On October 18, she was admitted into Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for the tumour to be removed – and 10 days later, she was back at work. She then went through a double dose of radiotherapy and chemotherapy to try to rid her body of the disease.
However, just after Christmas she started to experience agonising back pain.
Debbie said: “At first we put it down to the fact I’d been in so many hospital beds, it was just my aching body. But the pain started to get worse, and it had me in tears.
“Doctors then thought it was sciatica, but my GP wasn’t convinced, and in February I went for more scans.”
Last week, Debbie was given the devastating news that not only had her brain tumour returned, but she now also had bone cancer, plus the lesion in her lung.
Yesterday, she started another round of radiotherapy, which is targeting her back, pelvis and lungs.
She said: “I never expected them to say I only had 12 months – I just gritted my teeth and got on with it, really. It’s only when I read on paper what’s wrong with me, does it actually get to me.
“Thankfully, I have wonderful family, friends and work colleagues who have rallied round, and for that I am very grateful.
“I am determined to last longer than 12 months, as I want to spend as long as possible with Aimmie, so I’m hoping the radiotherapy works well.”
In a bid to keep focused, Debbie is organising her wake, which will be held at the Cleadon Club in Fulwell Avenue, South Shields, on April 6, from 7pm.
All monies raised will go to the North East branch of Macmillan Cancer Support – after the charity helped her earlier this year.
Debbie said: “The Macmillan Nurses have been great. My boiler broke and I thought I was insured, but I wasn’t. So they donated £300 as I needed heat.
“So I want to be able to give something back to them and help other people like myself within the region. We already have quite a few great raffle prizes, but if anyone would like to donate some more, or buy a ticket, that would be amazing.”
n Tickets cost £5 for adults or £2.50 for kids. To donate a raffle prize or buy a ticket, call the Gazette on 427 4861.