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Daughter of brain tumour victim Emma McLaughlin will have the love she needs, says brother in heartwarming tribute

By Donna Deeney

Published 06/09/2016

Emma McLaughlin with her daughter Hope
Emma McLaughlin with her daughter Hope
Emma McLaughlin (second from right) with brothers Rory and JR and sister Claire

The 'miracle' daughter of brain tumour victim Emma McLaughlin will still grow up surrounded by a family's love, a brother of the Londonderry woman has said.

Emma (37) died on August 29 after a long and arduous 14-year battle against the tumour during which time she underwent open brain surgery three times.

The mother-of-one - known to her friends as Dizzy - was an inspiration to everyone who met her because of her warm personality and zest for life.

But it is her family who will miss her most and who are determined her daughter Hope will always know how much her mother loved her.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Emma's brother John Ryan, known as JR, said: "We thought Emma was unstoppable.

"She fought so hard to stay with us but last June she had an MRI scan which showed a number of tumours were in her brain and it was terminal.

"Emma wanted everyone to know her story. She wanted to create awareness and inspire people who were in the same position as her and she felt she had so much more to do.

"But when she got the results of her MRI scan in June, she knew her time was short.

"Emma was particularly worried about Hope, her daughter - Hope is just two years older than Emma was when our mother Berna died. But she talked to her and to our sister Claire and between us all and Harry, Emma's partner, Hope will have all the love Emma never got to give her.

"After Emma was first diagnosed in 2002 she had a lot of radiotherapy. She was told it would mean she would not be able to have children but her radiologist protected her ovaries and Hope was born a few years later so she is a real wee miracle.

"Hope is so like her mammy it is incredible and she gave Emma all the strength she needed and drive to be well.

"She is an incredible little person, an artist, a musician, with the spirit of her granny Berna, and her mammy. Emma will always be with us, through Hope."

Emma was first diagnosed in 2002 when she was just 23 years old. She had returned to Derry after travelling the world, including a trip to Australia where she first met the man who would become her partner and Hope's father, Harry Harris.

She had been feeling unwell for a number of months but one day it all came to a head and her father Pat rushed her to A&E. JR continued: "Emma travelled throughout Australia for a year and a half. She had the best experiences and met many beautiful friends, meeting up with Harry in his homeland.

"Our daddy was so proud to collect his beautiful daughter from the bus station with bells on her ankles that jingled as she walked, radiating happiness.

"Life was good for her but on her return to Derry after months and months of illness, her daddy carried her in his arms into A&E on a Halloween night in 2002 to be diagnosed with a very aggressive brain tumour.

"Sadly daddy developed cancer shortly afterwards and died. At the time people often said he chose to go first and allowed Emma to stay.

"Things were tough for Emma having to deal with extensive radiotherapy treatment and surgery without her mother and father. But we did everything we could and she had such a huge number of friends who loved her so she was surrounded by people who cared for her.

"It was after her diagnosis that she wrote to Harry in Australia and he didn't just write back, he got on a plane and arrived in Derry. He has been at her side since.

"Their love for each other as a family was a joy to everyone around them. Harry's patience and dedication to Emma was always so strong and beautiful.

"Emma was a gift to us all, we have the opportunity to remember what she taught us and to use this to change and improve our lives and the lives of others around us. She lit up a path that those blessed to know her can follow."

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