A Hartlepool family devastated by the loss of their mum in the prime of her life is campaigning to raise awareness and fund vital research for the cancer that took her from them.
Much-loved mum of three Julie Williams died aged just 46 only nine months after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Now her close-knit family are working to increase awareness and much-needed funding for the cancer that sees less than one per cent of victims survive beyond 10 years.
Daughter Chloe, 24, said: “We went everywhere and did everything together as a family.
“People think it won’t happen to us because our family’s normal, nothing happens to us, then something like this can change everything.”
Julie, married to Kevin, 49, went to hospital in January 2013. She had complained of a stomach ache on Christmas Day and turned jaundiced.
A scan to check for gallstones revealed a tumour in her pancreas.
Julie, who lived at Clavering, in Hartlepool, underwent a complicated procedure in hospital to remove it in Newcastle followed by chemotherapy at Hartlepool’s hospital, where she worked as a physiotherapy technician. Unfortunately, another scan in the summer found the cancer had spread to her liver and nothing more could be done.
Julie, also mum to Demi, 21, and Thomas, 17, chose to end her days at Hartlepool & District Hospice.
During her illness, Julie was also nursed by her mum Margaret Moore, a former Macmillan cancer nurse.
She passed away surrounded by her loved ones on September 20.
Chloe, mum to Joel Murphy-Williams, three, added: “She was very brave. I can never remember her getting upset in front of us.
“She always put a brave face on. Even near the end in the hospice, she was always laughing with visitors.
“The staff were absolutely amazing. It was like a second home.”
Chloe and the rest of Julie’s family hope to improve people’s understanding of pancreatic cancer, which for many years has received little research funding.
She added: “A lot of people think it’s an old person’s cancer but it’s not. A lot of people do get it younger. It is hard to diagnose and the 10-year life expectancy from diagnosis is less than one per cent. It is nowhere near as recognised as other forms such as breast cancer.”
To help change that Julie’s family are holding a charity summer fundraiser on Saturday, June 27, at Old Boys Rugby Club, Easington Road.
Money raised will be divided between Hartlepool & District Hospice and Pancreatic Cancer Research.
During the event, which will run from 2pm until late, Julie Defty, a chemotherapy nurse at Hartlepool hospital who treated Julie, will have her hair shaved off for sponsorship.
Entertainment will also include local singer and Teen Star UK finalist Olivia Crawford, baked goods and craft stall, candy floss machine, face painter, tombola, raffle and games.
A host of town businesses are supporting the event by providing snacks, cakes and prizes.
Tickets are £3 for adults and teenagers and free for children under 12.