Lying in hospital in the early hours of the morning, brave Laura Vickery grabs for her husband’s hand with fear in her eyes.
He tries to speak to her, but she falls unconscious, as the cancer she has courageously battled for years overcomes her weak body.
With her heartbeat now irregular, her partner, Sam, makes the hardest decision of his life as he asks doctors not to try to revive her.
Left alone in the room with his beloved wife, he leans down and gently kisses her on the forehead, before telling her it’s “OK to let go”.
Just five seconds later, she slips away.
The heartbreaking moment is etched in Sam’s mind after “light of his life” and “soulmate” Laura died aged 30 from breast cancer at the weekend.
Doctors had allegedly insisted his wife was too young for the disease after her nipple became red and blotchy and she started suffering from pain.
In an interview two years ago, Laura recalled how she was sent away with anti-anxiety medication despite tearfully begging for tests.
And in late 2013, she was diagnosed with advanced Stage Three cancer.
After undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a mastectomy of her left breast, she was told she had only an 11% chance of the disease returning.
However, almost exactly a year later, she discovered she had Stage Four cancer, which had spread to her lungs, ovaries and spine.
Several days before she passed away, Laura entered a hospice, with “more determination than ever” to get stronger and gain weight.
But she was rushed to hospital via ambulance, with terrified Sam holding her hand, after she began struggling to breathe and lost consciousness.
It was there that she passed away on Sunday – nearly two decades after her mum, Janet, also lost her life to breast cancer, aged just 42.
Laura, who had been living in the village of Bradford on Avon, near Bath, had suffered from pneumonia and likely sepsis before she died.
Now, Sam has penned a heartwrenching letter about his “beautiful” wife’s final days, hours and minutes as she finally lost her fight with cancer.
He says she is now having a “long overdue hug and kiss” with her mum.
“I have to believe that, or there is no point to this whole fight,” he writes.
He also says that, after his partner died, he shared a “final goodbye with her”, in which he said things that will remain between only them.
“I will forever hold that and her in my heart,” says the 29-year-old.
His account, shared with Mirror Online, is one of true love and courage.
Here is the letter, in full:
“It is with a heavy heart that I have to write this. On Sunday the 14th of January 2018 at around 2.10am, my beautiful Laura passed away.
“She had entered a hospice on the Wednesday previous, to receive rehab and me to have some respite. Due to Laura’s worsening state and weight loss, she had started to have trouble walking and even completing the simplest of tasks. I on the other hand was struggling to cope after we received the news that Laura would have to have chemotherapy once again as the cancer had spread to her liver and was quickly multiplying.
“Over the last month, Laura had lost two stone and she became very weak physically. She was no longer eating and I was trying to get any calories in her with protein shakes and milkshakes from McDonalds (her favourite). She had mouth sores and blisters and found it extremely difficult to swallow. As you all know by now Laura was mentally the strongest person in the world and was still determined to beat this vile disease.
“She entered the hospice with more determination than ever to get stronger, gain some weight and take advantage of the complimentary treatments on offer. Laura was also getting increasingly worried about my mental state and exhaustion after two and a half years of us fighting together. The thought of losing my Laura was just too much for me to bare and I wanted her to get the best physical help so that she could come home to me. I was hoping I could rest and get back to giving 100% in this fight. Not once had I taken a break in those two and a half years and I was experiencing burnout.
“While she was staying at the hospice she was continuing her chemotherapy at the hospital. She went with her amazing and equally beautiful soul friend Susie. Susie was also worried about me and wanted to help as much as she could. After her chemotherapy I went to visit her and we sat and talked as she went in and out of sleep, which is how she always was post chemo. I told her I loved her and she told me the same. I went home and struggled to sleep as there is nothing more unnatural than not having your wife in bed with you.
“The next day I went to the hospice again and Laura was bright and smiling as I arrived. We had a few cigarettes, talked about how when she got out of the hospice that we would continue to make her stronger and I would be feeling re-energised.
“We talked for hours about our life together and kissed and cuddled every time I helped her out of her wheelchair. I was due to stay with her in the hospice, but as I had training in the morning for a charity fight I had planned, I asked if I could go home and come straight to her after training.
“She looked disappointed but as usual Laura was more concerned about me and told me to go rest and that she would see me after training. I left her that night around 11.30pm, and as we always did every time we went to sleep we said to each other, ‘Good night, I love you and I will see you in the morning’.
“I left that night, positive and full of hope that Laura will come through. She had told me that she felt the best she had in weeks and due to the sleeping medication she was given there she was feeling more energised. I went to sleep and couldn’t wait to see my Laura even better the next day after another great sleep.
“At 5.30am I woke to banging on my front door. I knew immediately without looking that it was my mum and I rushed to the door. ‘Sam, the hospice called, they have been trying to get hold of you. Laura is panicking and asking for you.’ I got dressed, hopped in the car and drove over 100mph to get there as quickly as possible. I knew something was up.
“I arrived to the hospice and Laura was awake but looking very grey and finding it difficult to breathe. She said ‘Hi Baby’ and I said ‘Jesus Christ, you’ve given me a scare, how are you feeling?’. She replied ‘I’m feeling a little better’. With that her eyes started to roll around and she lost consciousness. I called for the doctor and nurse and they started working on her to bring her round.
“The nurse pulled me into a side room and said to me, ‘Sam, I think Laura is dying’. How can that be I thought? She said she had felt the best she had in weeks the night before. The nurse asked me outright, do you want to call and ambulance or do you want to let her slip away peacefully here? My mind went blank. I didn’t know what to do, nor was I prepared for such a question. I knew this sort of thing would happen but I just didn’t think it would be now.
“Laura was always a fighter and I knew she would want the ambulance. It was called and we rode there together as I held her hand and told her that everything will be ok. She slipped in and out of consciousness over and over. My fear and sadness was filling with every moment. She was slipping away from me and there was nothing I could do.
Sam is raising money for The Bradley Lowery Foundation in memory of his beloved wife. To donate, click here
“We entered the hospital and Laura was taken to resus where they counteracted her morphine with a drug I cant remember, she came round immediately and started talking. There was hope after all. Or so I thought. The nurses once again pulled me aside and reiterated what the nurse at the hospice had told me “We think this is her time”. I couldn’t even comprehend what was being said to me. I said just please help her, she is a fighter and won’t give up. They ran tests and did scans.
“The results came back and her white blood cell count was 0. White blood cells if you don’t know are the cells that are responsible for you immune system. Basically she had no immunity to anything whatsoever. This had happened before to Laura and I told them once again she will fight and not to give up on her. The x-ray came back and the doctors told me that she had pneumonia and most likely sepsis. It was at that moment I knew that she wouldn’t be coming home again. Whether it was now or in a couple of days, it was going to happen.
“I spent the day holding Laura’s hand and chatting with her as she went in and out of sleep. Before that I had called all of Laura’s loved ones and told them to come to the hospital as soon as they could as it was touch and go. The doctors continued to give her antibiotics and fluids to try and get her feeling well again. I was told there was a less than 10% chance that she would pull through. However after being told Laura wouldn’t make it 6 months after her initial diagnosis of stage 4 and being pulled aside on two previous hospital visits to prepare myself for the worst, I still wanted to believe she would pull through.
“Family and friends were a revolving door that day. We all spent time with her, laughed with her, hugged her and kissed her. She knew how loved she was and was telling me how nice it was to see everyone. Her vital signs actually started to improve and I was hopeful of another miracle. She moved to another ward around 10pm that night and I was given a chair to sleep next to her. Her friend Susie came with us and left around 12 to get some rest and return in the morning.
“About 1.30am after we had been watching Judge Judy (Laura’s absolute favourite – sad I know) and talking about how me and Betty, our dog, would take care of her when she got home and that I would never let this happen again. We laughed, we talked about how much we loved each other and that only me and her could be this unlucky as per usual. She said to me ‘I think I am going to try and sleep baby’. Before she went to sleep, I said to her ‘I want you to know how proud of you I am, how much I love you and how strong she is’. She turned to me and replied ‘Always and forever babe, I am going to beat this. Team Vickery’.
“With that I chuckled and as always we said to each other, good night, I love you and I’ll see you in the morning. We kissed and I settled in for a long night watching over her.
“Unfortunately at 2am, Laura took another turn. Me and the nurse were helping move her up the bed to try and assist her breathing. It was at this moment she started to slip. She grabbed for my hand and I could see the fear in her beautiful eyes. As I tried to speak to her she fell unconscious. The doctors rushed in and started trying to get her breathing back on track so she could gain consciousness again. Her heartbeat had become extremely irregular and finally, the cancer and her pneumonia had overtaken her poor, weak body.
”I was asked by the doctor “If her heart stops, do you want us to attempt resuscitation?”. This was by far and away the hardest question I had ever been asked and I only had 10 seconds to respond. In those 10 seconds, I played over the options. Laura had said earlier that day that she wanted to be resuscitated if anything happened. I also knew though, that if they did she would probably have her ribs and sternum broken, and most likely would only survive in a coma for another day or so.
“With that I made the hardest decision I have ever made and asked the doctors not to attempt to revive her. I couldn’t believe this was the moment. The nurses stayed with me and removed all the cables and tubes that were attached to her. They let me know she had a small pulse. I asked them to leave the room. I looked at my Laura, ravaged by disease and the treatment that was supposed to help her and I leant down, kissed her on the forehead and told her it was ok to let go.
“5 seconds later, she breathed her last breath.
“It is the most devastating feeling in the world. I stayed with her for a while and talked to her a little more. I apologised for being tired and not being there for her, I told her I loved her repeatedly, how much I was going miss her and that I would take care of baby girl Betty. I cried and cried and cried. I haven’t stopped crying since. The thought that I will never see her again, has destroyed me. Her friends and family arrived, and they all took turns saying their goodbyes. After they were done, I returned to the room one last time to pack her things and say my final goodbye. It was the hardest moment pulling myself away from her. I won’t say what I told her in that final goodbye as it was special to just me and Laura. I will forever hold that and her in my heart.
”That night at our flat was the most lonely I have ever felt in my life. I started talking to Laura in hope she would respond and it was futile. I got more and more stressed out and begged her for any sign that she could hear me and was still with me. It was at that moment that the heavens opened up and heavy rain started hitting our windows.
“Not many people know this, but Laura loved when rain was outside and she was inside listening to it. She had memories from when she was a child sitting with her mother, who was battling cancer, and watching films with her on rainy afternoons. I know most of you will say it’s bullshit and I would normally agree, however I knew in that moment that she was still with me and would never leave me.
“Laura can now rest easy, she is no longer in pain and no longer has to suffer. She didn’t give up ever and it was only her body that couldn’t cope. Mentally she could have continued forever. I loved that about her the most. She wouldn’t give up for anything. She wanted to be with me forever and cuddle our baby for the rest of time. Unfortunately life is a cruel joke sometimes. The love of my life has been taken from me and I will never speak to or see her again. I genuinely don’t know how I will get through, but I will because that is what Laura would have wanted me to do. She never gave up and neither will I. Never.
“Laura has joined her mother and they are having a long overdue hug and kiss. I have to believe that, or there is no point to this whole fight. She’s looking at me right now, wherever she is, telling me to man up and stop crying. That how she was. Inappropriate, loved to laugh and wanted me to be happy.
”I will never meet another like Laura and I don’t want to. She will forever be the light in my life and I will keep her with me every step of the way. Laura was my soul mate, lover, best friend and favourite person in the whole world. She used to tell me all the time that we were two halves that were lucky enough to meet. It was me and her against the world and it always will be. I keep hearing the grief will get better, even if it never fully leaves me. I am struggling to believe that right now. I just want to see her one more time.
“Laura if you are reading this, know that you made me so happy. We truly were meant for one another and we had a connection and bond that most people never get to experience. We were lucky in that sense.
“We started a little family and it was the happiest you and I have ever felt. I know we still argued and were silly with one another some times, but we always fought for each other no matter what.
“Always and forever we will be a team. I love you my beautiful brown eyed girl. You’ve gone too soon and I will hold you in my heart until the day I lose my own fight.
“I will take care of our baby and make sure she knows you love her every day by cuddling her on our bed like you always did.
“We went through such hard times, but I will try to remember you with our cherished moments together.
“Our drunken nights when we first met, where we would dance the night away, drinking wine and telling each other stories about our lives.
“The cuddles and kisses. The deep conversations about life and the universe around us.
“Our engagement on Christmas Day. Our trips to the theatre where you would get so into it that you were singing louder than the people on stage. How we laughed at the same stupid and inappropriate stuff.
“Our strength in the face of adversity. Going to pick our darling puppy. Our daily gushing of love for one another. The fact we never gave up on one another. The homes we shared. The gifts we shared. The life we shared. The friends we shared. The family we shared. The many weekend trips we took. Our last trip to the beautiful mountains of Tuscany. Our honeymoon. Our wedding, which was the best day of our lives.
“But most of all I will just cherish you and your spirit forever. You showed me what it was to be really strong and you always believed in me. I hope I make you proud. I can’t wait to see you again someday, meet your beloved mother and dance the night away once again. I’ll forever see your brown eyes, hear that ridiculous chortle of a laugh and think about the most beautiful face I have ever laid eyes on.
“Good night Belle, I love you and I will see you in the morning.
“Forever and always.”