Kevin Carey's heartbroken wife tells of devastation as he loses brain tumour fight
An inspirational former GAA player whose courageous brain tumour battle touched the hearts of the nation is to be buried on Saturday after losing his fight with the disease.
Former Portglenone GAA player and civil engineer Kevin Carey had undergone major brain surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy in an effort to overcome aggressive Glioblastoma.
A fundraising campaign to help meet the cost of his treatment raised more than £237,000 in just eight months.
However, a post by Kevin's wife, Natasha, on Saturday revealed the devastating news that Kevin had suddenly become "very seriously unwell".
She said that an urgent scan showed the treatment had "suddenly stopped working", the tumour had returned and there was "nothing that can stop it this time".
Kevin passed away peacefully at home yesterday, at the age of just 35.
In an emotional social media tribute, Natasha, who was at Kevin's side throughout his treatment, wrote: "My beautiful gladiator has been set free.
"Kevin fought the most couragous fight to the end, and won, he kept his gorgeous sweet personality and will be forever young. There are no words. My everything."
The post was accompanied by poignant photos of the young couple dancing at their wedding, of Kevin carrying his wife over the threshold, and of the pair enjoying their life together.
News of Kevin's death was greeted with an outpouring of grief and hundreds of tributes on social media.
His employers, GEDA Construction, described him as "an incredible husband, son and brother, as well as a gifted and talented civil engineer."
They said: "He will be sorely missed by all of us. It's devastating that Kevin's life has been taken so early after the long and courageous battle he and his wife, Natasha, fought against his illness. Their strength and tenacity over the past 21 months has truly humbled us. We are incredibly proud to have known and worked with him."
Antrim GAA posted: "Sincere sympathy to Natasha and the Carey family. May Kevin rest in peace."
The Committee of Roger Casements GAC Portglenone also said they "deeply regret the death of Kevin".
Prior to his illness, Kevin had been a fit and healthy sports player.
The Careys' world was "turned upside down" on July 15, 2015 after Kevin suffered a number of seizures. An MRI scan revealed an aggressive grade four, terminal, cancerous brain tumour.
Kevin underwent major brain surgery in September 2015, followed by six weeks of radio-chemotherapy and six months of full-strength chemotherapy.
After the tumour resisted all treatment, Kevin underwent a further five hours of brain surgery while fully awake under local anaesthetic in July 2016. Although neurosurgeons managed to remove 95-97% of the tumour, some of the disease was left behind.
The family then used the money raised by the public for pioneering immunotherapy in London.
Kevin's remains will leave his home at 21a Crawfordstown Road on Saturday May 6 at 11.15am. A mass celebrating his life will be held in St Oliver Plunket's Church, Clady, at 12pm, with burial immediately afterwards in Aughnahoy cemetery, Portglenone.