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Karen loses cancer fight before she gets chance of radical treatment in America

By Lisa Smyth

Published 11/07/2016

Karen McGrath
Karen McGrath
Karen McGrath with partner Chris Carlin

A woman who launched a fundraising drive to pay for pioneering cancer treatment she hoped would save her life has lost her fight with the disease.

Karen McGrath (46) from Coalisland, Co Tyrone, passed away at hospital on July 3 and was laid to rest on Wednesday.

Posting on Facebook on Friday, her devastated partner, Chris Carlin, said: "Karen may have gone but she will never be forgotten. I was so lucky to call her my fiancee and she will forever be my wife.

"She was the most beautiful caring, loving and kind woman I ever met.

"Love you with all my heart baby, until we meet again xxx miss u like crazy".

He later posted: "So lost without you at my side. Baby.

"We have never been apart this long. Luv u with all my heart. Xx".

Ms McGrath was diagnosed with lung cancer in January last year and despite enduring gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy, the cancer spread and she was told it was terminal at the end of last year.

Unwilling to accept the prognosis, Ms McGrath - a mother of two and grandmother of three - found a new treatment in the US and launched an online appeal to raise the £25,000 she needed to pay for it.

Speaking at the time, she said: "I am only a young woman and I'm not ready to leave my family and my young grandchildren.

"I need help to raise this money to allow me to go to America to receive life-saving treatment.

"The treatment is not available in the UK or Ireland."

Ms McGrath went to her doctor after suffering from a persistent cough and constant breathlessness. After her diagnosis, she had gruelling radiotherapy - 44 times in three weeks - and chemotherapy.

She said: "They found a tumour of approximately 10cm in my right lung. At that stage I was advised all was going well and the tumour was shrinking."

But after she developed pain in her right shoulder, it was found the cancer had spread to her collar bone.

During a routine check, the doctors told her there was no more hope after they found the cancer had spread to her left lung, liver, bones and lymph nodes.

She was due to have more chemotherapy to try and bring the condition under control before travelling to America but her condition deteriorated and she died without fulfilling her dream of marrying her long-term partner, Chris.

Family friend Nuala Donnelly paid tribute to her pal: "Karen had a real fighting spirit, very much so, for her family."

Ms McGrath's funeral was held at St Mary and St Joseph's Church in Coalisland.

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