Melissa Livingstone died from rare cancer after virus stopped her treatment
The family and friends of a young Lisburn mother who died from cancer this week after Covid-19 stopped her treatment have paid tribute to her bravery.
Melissa Rose Livingstone (36) passed away at home in Dunmurry on Monday surrounded by her family.
She is survived by her two-year-old daughter Rose, siblings Samantha and Paul, and parents Deirdre and John.
Her death comes shortly after another tragedy for her family. Ms Livingstone's partner Dominic Chambers (30) died in his sleep in October from heart failure.
On the same day she also received the devastating news that her rare form of cancer had moved to her lungs and was terminal.
She had previously been diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 when she was four months' pregnant.
Hoping to spend as much time with her daughter as possible, doctors had hoped chemotherapy could extend her life.
Having completed her first round of treatment in February, her next planned session in March had to be cancelled as the sudden pressure of Covid-19 disrupted health services.
By May she was told that she only had weeks left to live.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, sister Samantha (38) thanked those who had contributed nearly £6,000 so far to fund research into her sister's condition.
"Everybody is just a bit numb. We're relieved she's no longer in pain, but it's just very sad," she said.
"She fought hard towards the end but it was the outcome that she didn't want."
She said her sister had been "extremely brave" in dealing with both her partner's death and diagnosis at once.
With a love of photography and craftwork, Samantha said that as an accountant her sister was also the mathematician of the family.
"You can see how she lives on in Rose, she's very analytical for her age and is brilliant at jigsaws.
"We've been reading books to try and explain what's happening. But she's still very young, and of course there will be some tough conversations over time.
"We've always been a really close family and my sister made it clear what she wants, so we'll do everything she had hoped for Rose."
She was a beautiful girl, inside and out. She had the most infectious smile. Even in her illness she never lost thatEimear McLean
Life-long friends of Mel also praised her for how she handled the tragedy of losing her partner and the devastating return of her cancer within such a short space of time. Eimear McLean said: "She was a beautiful girl, inside and out. She had the most infectious smile. Even in her illness she never lost that."
Nuala Whittaker said she wanted to support others right to the end. She spoke of how on the last time they met, Mel even asked how she was doing.
"She was just so strong and brave throughout and right to the end," she said.
Clare Beggs added: "She was a lovely, sunny personality and so positive."
Anna Bell added: "Even when her chemo was cancelled, she was devastated, but she just got on with it for Rose.
"She had spoken of how in 2020 she wanted to have another child, but it wasn't to be. It is such a tragic story, she had such strength and resolve.
"Mel was so kind and generous. And even now something good is happening in her name with the money raised through the fundraiser."
Details on the fundraiser can be found at justgiving.com/fundraising/melissa-rose-livingstone