Tributes to courageous teenager

FOR eight long years Carla Dawson courageously fought a brave battle against bone cancer.It was her immense strength of character that carried her through the dark times.

FOR eight long years Carla Dawson courageously fought a brave battle against bone cancer.

It was her immense strength of character that carried her through the dark times.

When doctors told her last year that it had spread to both lungs she decided against more chemotherapy, taking it in her stride and saying to her family "Lets go for Pizza."

Poignantly just a couple of weeks before her death on Monday, her nephew Jacob was born to her brother Simon and his fiancée Emma.

On the day before she died she managed to lift her oxygen mask to give Jacob one last kiss.

Today her father Phil and mother Ronnie paid tribute to her strength and said that they no one ever thought that they would see Carla with her nephew.

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Phil said: "That was one moment that we thought we would never see, those two together.

"On the Sunday on the night before she died she took off her oxygen mask and gave him a kiss."

Carla from Brooklands Road, Brantham, was 19 when she died and had been diagnosed with an Osteosarcoma, which started in her leg two months into her first year at East Bergholt high school.

Phil said: "A lot of the way through this we really got our strength from her because she was so determined."

It was last December that Carla made the decision not to have any more chemotherapy.

Ronnie, 53 said: "She had made her mind up that she wanted to make the most of the time she had left."

Earlier this year, she fulfilled her dream of swimming with dolphins when she and Ronnie went on a trip to Mexico.

She was also determined to go to a wedding in Lancashire where she had lived until 1986, even though her family feared she may not be up to it.

Since Carla was diagnosed with the cancer she had been through several operations and bouts of chemotherapy.

She lost her long blonde hair twice and she was initially devastated but refused to wear a wig and instead wore her trademark black floppy hat and the second time a baseball cap.

As a youngster she was a keen horse rider and while they did not think she would be able to ride again, she made sure that she could.

Ronnie said: "After her first surgery when she was around 12 or 13, that was her carrot dangling.

"She wanted to keep going to get back on her horse again."

Carla joined the Riding Disabled Association and entered and won some competitions.

As a teenager she carried on doing the things that girls her age love to do, going out with her friends, going to the pub and going to music nights.

When she got a car it was her independence and Ronnie said she like nothing more than to be able to ferry her friends around on nights out.

This year as her condition deteriorated she was no longer able to walk very far and so had to go in a wheelchair and give up her accountancy job in Ipswich.

But even then, although she was upset at her loss of independence she was still full of spirit.

Ronnie said: "She always wanted to take the dogs out.

"I would put her in the wheelchair and wrap her up with blankets and give her oxygen. She would have a dog in each hand. It was really hard work but I am so glad I did it now."

n. Clara's funeral will take place at Brantham Church at 2pm on Wednesday.

Flowers or donations, for the St Elizabeth Hospice where Clara died, may be sent to Paskell's Funeral Service, 15 High Street, Manningtree, Essex CO11 1AG.

FACTFILE:

Bone cancer - Different Types

There are several types of cancer that start in the bones.

Carla had an Osteosarcoma which develops in new tissue and growing bones.

It is one of the most common types of bone cancer .

Osteosarcomas are more commonly found around the knee.

Symptoms vary from person to person but the most common ones are pain and swelling or tenderness.

Sometimes the cancer can interfere with movement and weaken the bones, occasionally leading to a fracture.

Information source – Cancer Index

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