Published: 10:01, 21 April 2014
Young mum Laura Hymas is pictured beaming on her wedding day after pioneering treatment gave her the all clear from an aggressive brain tumour.
But just three weeks later she was given the devastating news the cancer had returned.
Within days, Laura, mum to Jacob, aged four, was left unable to walk as the disease rapidly spread. Last Sunday, the 27-year-old lost her battle, with husband Ben by her side.
He said: “Laura had been completely clear [of cancer] for 18 months. Even her oncologist here said she was an exception.
“She went for a routine scan three weeks after the wedding and they found a new tumour. It was the same type as the original tumour, but extremely aggressive. It was a shock.”
Laura was first diagnosed with cancer on Christmas Eve 2010. She was told there was no cure for the disease in the UK and given just 12 months to live.
But Laura and Ben, from Rochester, refused to give in and launched a campaign to raise £75,000 to fund gene therapy in Texas.
One year after she started treatment, she was told the tumour had completely gone.
Ben, 34, said: “When we found out the cancer had come back we asked for the same treatment but Laura was denied it. We were in contact with her doctor in America and he applied for the legal right to treat her again but this was declined. We could have fought it legally but we just didn’t have time.”
Laura spent the next weeks in and out of hospital, but tried to spend as much time as possible with Jacob. She also wrote letters and cards that Ben will be able to give him in the future.
Ben said: “She has written birthday cards for him until his 21st birthday and also written a letter to his future wife, so in some small way she gets to meet her.”
Laura spent her final days at The Wisdom Hospice in Rochester.
Ben said: “I spent a lot of time just talking to Laura. She couldn’t talk by this time but she could hear. So I would tell her lots of things about the future.
“I was sleeping at the hospice for those 10 days and I woke up just before she passed so I was able to talk to her and hold her hand.
“I don’t have any regrets. We know we did above and beyond everything we could do to try to beat it [the cancer]. Laura was ill for a long time but some people don’t live 12 months. She was healthy for a long period and she got to have the perfect wedding day.
“There was a lot of criticism around her treatment, but I don’t feel like we made any mistakes. I would like to thank everyone for the efforts they made to raise the funds. About £100,000 was raised in the end and it didn’t go to waste.
“The treatment didn’t cure Laura but it gave her another two years. When Laura was first diagnosed, Jacob could only say a few words but Laura got to hear Jacob say he loved her, so it was all worth it.”