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Tributes for Belfast bride-to-be Vikki McKeown as she succumbs to brain tumour at age 25

Family grieving 'selfless, caring' student dead just weeks after diagnosis

By Laura Abernethy

Published 01/06/2016

Vikki McKeown
Vikki McKeown
Vikki McKeown

Tributes have been paid to a student who died from a tumour weeks after being diagnosed.

Vikki McKeown, from Belfast, lost her battle with brain cancer on Monday. The 25-year-old was in the final year of an occupational therapy degree at Ulster University and was planning her wedding to fiance James Wright when she began suffering from what GPs thought were panic attacks.

But following a seizure in April she was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had surgery less than a week later.

Her parents Sharon and Gary and sister Reah were told that if Vikki had waited another 24 hours before the procedure she would have likely died.

The family raised thousands of pounds for an alkaline water pump to try and slow the growth of cancer cells in her body.

Some believe that the device can boost the immune system and help the body stay fully hydrated.

Vikki's sister had been organising a fundraising night for her at Mountainview Social Club next week.

In a post on her fundraising page, Reah described her younger sibling as a "good and caring person". "When told by doctors that it was a grade four (the worst), that it would come back and that she would have to go through a lot of treatment, her question to them was: 'Will I ever be able to give blood again?'" Reah wrote.

"They told her they didn't think so, and also (she needed) to be slightly selfish and that she needed her own blood at the minute.

"To me that was the most selfless question, still caring about others. But from a child Vikki has always been like that - a strong and caring person. She holds us together.

"She is only 25 years old and has the rest of her life ahead of her. We want to do what we can to give her the life she deserves."

Sadly, Vikki was unable to see off the disease. In tribute to the young woman, members of the Pride of Shankill Flute Band and the Newtownabbey Fusiliers, both of which she used to be part of, gathered outside her house last weekend to play for her and her family.

The Pride of Shankill Flute Band wrote on its Facebook page yesterday: "The officers and members from the Pride of Shankill Flute Band extend our deepest sympathy to the entire family circle. Vikki was a member of the band, and a very important one at that. She had given up the band a while back, but once you're a part of our family, you're forever a member with pride at heart.

"The passing of Vikki is and will be felt very deeply within our ranks and will never be forgotten. We have so many happy and good memories with Vikki as a member. Always in our hearts, she will walk with us forever and ever."

Friends also took to social media yesterday to pay tribute. Her fiance's brother Adam Wright wrote: "You made my brother happy and immensely proud every day. You were not only my sister-in-law but my friend, and for that I'm thankful."

Ricky Billing said: "It's not fair. Heartbreaking doesn't even begin to describe it. God rest your soul Vikki McKeown."

Heather Wilson added: "Absolutely devastated for Vikki McKeown and her family. Life is so cruel. Always so full of laughter in school and I'll never forget how kindly you treated everyone. Genuinely lovely person."

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