Belfast Telegraph

Charlene Campbell buried beside baby girl she lost to cancer

By Joanne Sweeney

The devoted mother who died of breast cancer after losing her baby girl to a brain tumour was laid to rest beside her yesterday.

Hundreds of mourners turned out to pay their respects to 33-year-old Charlene Campbell at her funeral service in Tandragee Baptist Church.

The Portadown woman had bravely tried to fight her cancer with holistic remedies and by adopting a strict organic diet after she was diagnosed in March.

Despite her positive attitude and determination to fight the disease, she agreed to have surgery in August but the cancer had advanced too far throughout her body.

Charlene's conditioned worsened and she was admitted to Craigavon Area Hospital two weeks ago but died on Wednesday.

Her parents, Gary and Geraldine Lawson, and sister Louise Lawson led the family mourners. Many of the male mourners wore pink ties in honour of the breast cancer awareness campaign while Charlene's coffin was draped in pink and while lilies, roses and carnations.

Charlene's fun and determined personality were the main themes of her funeral service, which saw her aunt describe her niece as a "style icon" and "my pet".

Liz Beggs had been particularly close to Charlene and said she was a "fun, fun person to be with and my social butterfly."

Just before Charlene found out she had three tumours in her liver, her and her aunt had enjoyed a fun-filled break in Barcelona three weeks ago.

Within a week, the cancer had spread to her spine.

An emotional Mrs Beggs told the congregation: "We love you Charlene, you will walk beside me every day of my life. You will be by angel."

Pastor David Patterson asked mourners to observe a minute's silence of reflection as a mark of respect to the young woman who "had touched so many people's lives". He said: "What a beautiful young girl to be snatched away from us. Our hearts and our heads are all over the place and we are overwhelmed with the sense of grief and loss."

Charlene was said to have developed a fear of cancer and conventional medical treatments after losing her only child, Myla, at the age of one year and 12 days, in March, 2010. The tot had been diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was two months old.

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At first it was thought Myla's condition was curable, but a biopsy revealed Myla had a rare aggressive malignant tumour called ATRT (atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumours).

Myla was the only one in the UK to have the condition, which affects 40-50 children in the world. Sufferers have a life expectancy being between six and 17 months.

Charlene had allowed Myla - who was known as 'Smyla Myla' due to her sunny disposition - to have chemotherapy and to take part in experimental treatment to see if it would shrink her tumour, but it failed.

Charlene's boss, estate agent Michael Hannath, praised his top sales negotiator for her "fiery, feisty" personality.

He said: "Charlene knew what she wanted, she made a plan and stuck with it with fierce determination until she achieved it.

"It was the same strength of character that we saw this year when Charlene made the very courageous but difficult decision of not to take the convention route of treatment for her illness.

"I know that this was not something everyone agreed with... but she had made her plan and she stuck to it and I think we have to admire her for it."

The church's former minister, Pastor Billy Reid, also told of how he had ministered to Charlene during "the birth, illness and death of baby Myla".

"Those were dark traumatic days and I did not expect to be sharing in another event so sad, so difficult and in such a short space of time," he added.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph