Kirsten Hawksey, who had a 15-month-old daughter, left one final message before she passed away on Christmas Day.
Kirsten, who was from Liverpool, was only 23 when she died, leaving her daughter Penelope in the care of her parents. Four weeks before she died she was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukaemia.
In the weeks leading up to her death, she left a final message on Facebook to raise awareness, she warned people should ‘not ignore any symptom’.
On Tuesday I was diagnosed with Leukemia (APL) and have started Chemo therapy today.. this is by all means not a cry for sympathy because that’s not like me as you will be aware hahaha, but more so awareness not to ignore any symptom! I never go to the doctors, so thank god for everyone pushing me to go over some unexplained bruising!
Kirsten’s message went on to say:
I literally couldn’t thank all my family, friends and work colleagues for all their support last week. If anything I feel more lucky than unlucky. Just want to thank you all.
She was diagnosed with leukaemia on 27th November after going to see a doctor regarding suspicious bruising on her leg. According to her father Neil, she had ignored at first but when it got worse she went to the hospital to get a medical opinion.
When she received the devastating news, rather than feel sorry for herself she remained positive.
Speaking to The Metro Neil said:
She was fit and well apart from this bruising. We said ‘go to the doctors’ but she said ‘I’m alright’ – she just thought it was from the baby. ‘But it got to the point when she was in the house and she showed us her legs and we said you need to do to the doctors. The bruises looked like – what I can only describe as when you have been paintballing.
Doctors asked her if she had felt tired and she said ‘yes but not exceptionally so’. She had a 15-month-old daughter and worked full time – she was bound to be tired. We thought she could be anaemic or something. She actually Googled the symptom and it came back saying leukaemia. But it was just laughed off, because she wasn’t sick.
After doctor’s told Kirsten her diagnosis Neil went onto say:
It was weird hearing the doctors say how ill she actually was, because she was sitting there laughing and joking with me. Kirsten was not the type of girl who would moan or complain. She wasn’t a ‘why me?’ type. She was so strong willed and she just planned to fight it and get on with life.
She would never have given up fighting because of her daughter – she idolised her and completely loved her to bits. But sadly things were taken out of her control.
Neil has said the whole experience has left him, his 16-year-old son Jack and wife Emma ‘completely numb’. When they found out Kirsten had suffered a bleed on the brain on Christmas Day the family had to make the hard and ‘catastrophic’ decision of turning off her life support machine.
He explains how:
It doesn’t feel real at the moment to be honest. When we were told it was leukaemia I asked ‘why Kirsten?’ ‘was it anything she did?’ ‘could it not have been picked up when she had her daughter’? But doctors said ‘she is just unlucky’.
There is no reason. She wasn’t a smoker – she drank very little, she was a hardworking, loving and gorgeous mum, daughter and granddaughter.
Kristen’s family didn’t even realise she had posted an awareness message a few weeks before her death, Neil had said she ‘was very private’ so it was a massive shock when they found out.
We would not usually speak out like this but it was Kirsten’s last wish. We have had so much support from family and friends and have even had messages from people who don’t even know us which is overwhelming. We are devastated and I don’t know what we would have done without Penelope. But we will make sure she never forgets her mum.
Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia is a subtype of AML (acute myeloid leukaemia), it’s a rare type of cancer which can affect the white blood cells. It can affect anyone, at any age, but it is more common in people over 60-years-old.
Around 2,600 people are diagnosed with AML each year in the UK.
For more information on AML and APL you can head over to Macmillan. Alternatively, you can call their hotline on 0808 808 00 00.