Cancer claims brave Hartlepool mum before her wedding

Kath Brown
Kath Brown

AFTER being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, brave mum Kath Brown vowed to do all she could to tackle her fight head on.

The 49-year-old defied medics by going on a family holiday. She had a tattoo of the word “hope” inked onto her wrist alongside a cancer ribbon symbol, and set up a fundraising night to help raise cash for the nurses who cared for her.

She even organised her own funeral, which included a poignant recording of her singing He Ain’t Heavy. Tragically, the only thing Kath didn’t live to see was her wedding day, which she had planned with childhood sweetheart Mark Corbett for next month.

The mum-of-two and grandmother-of-three lost her 13-month fight on August 17.

Kath, who worked as a cook in a care home, was diagnosed with lung cancer in July last year.

An X-ray showed a shadow on her lung. She had chemotherapy and radiotherapy but the cancer spread to her brain and adrenal gland.

More treatment followed but Kath had a tumour in her lung and her lymph nodes. When it spread, more tumours were found in her brain.

After a spell in Hartlepool & District Hospice, she passed away at her home in Hartlepool’s Macauley Road.

Today, her partner Mark, 49, an operator for BSR Ramco steelworks in Brenda Road, said: “We were going to get married in October at the Register Office.

“There is not a person in the world who could have coped better than Kath did. She was fantastic. She was so strong. I could not have done what she did.”

Kath’s family said she always put others first, a fact highlighted last December when she stayed all night by her daughter Sam’s side in hospital as she gave birth to her 6lbs 7ozs son Jake.

After little Jake’s arrival, Kath went straight for radiotherapy on her cancer.

Kath, also grandmother to Leonie, four and one-year-old Lexi, was determined to live life to the full despite her devastating diagnosis last summer:

l She went on a family holiday to Alcudia in June this year. Days earlier, doctors told her she had 12 hours to live because of septicemia but she fought back. She got to spend time with her beloved family, including her brothers who flew out for a surprise visit.

l She got a tattoo on her wrist with the word “hope”, a butterfly and a cancer ribbon - to match the one her daughter Sam had on her foot at the same time.

l She organised her own funeral, complete with instructions for everyone to be happy and wear her favourite colour of blue. The ceremony at St Aidan’s Church included Kath singing her own recording of He Aint Heavy. More than 450 people attended the wake afterwards.

l She organised a charity night at the Catholic Club in Hartlepool, with 300 people there - all singing along to Kath’s favourite tune Shout, by Lulu. The event raised £4,000 for Macmillan.

Daughter Sam, 25, said: “We were devastated when she was diagnosed and we tried to keep strong, but she was strong for everyone.

“There weren’t many times when she was low and when she was, the Macmillan Cancer nurse Sue Burke was fantastic.”

Son Anthony, 26, a self-employed roofer, said: “She fought it as much as she could. She was always more worried about other people. She put others first.

“She did all these things before she died and she told us that when she was gone, there had to be no crying and no sadness.”

The family wanted to pay tribute to Macmillan for the excellent support provided for Kath.

Macmillan volunteer fund manager for Hartlepool Derek Redman, who attended the charity night, said: “It is amazing and incredible what this family has done and it was a joy to have met them.”