Sister of Paisley woman who died just weeks after completing cancer treatment pays tribute to her ‘best friend’

The grieving sister of a Paisley woman who died just weeks after being given the green light from cancer has paid a heartfelt tribute to her ‘little best friend’.

Michelle McFadyen hailed the strength and bravery of her younger sister Charlene during her battle with stage four throat cancer, which saw the 40-year-old having to relearn how to swallow, communicate and eat.

Charlene recently underwent major surgery to remove her voice box and completed grueling radiation treatment following her diagnosis on October 2 last year.

It took months for her to be diagnosed after her swollen throat and severe pain were mistaken for recurring tonsillitis.

Despite the ringing of the hospital bell – which patients traditionally do to mark the end of treatment – ​​on March 3 and the celebration of being cancer free, an infection gripped Charlene and caused organ failure.

She died in hospital on March 26 with her partner of 13 years Kevin Marshall and Michelle by her side.

“There are no words to describe what we felt,” a heartbroken Michelle told the Express.

“She was more than my little sister, she was my best friend.

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“We were just completely clueless.

“No matter what she was going through in life, she always came to me. We had a really special bond.

“In the end, it didn’t matter that she couldn’t speak, I could tell what she was telling me just by her eyes.”

Michelle said she was impressed with her younger sister’s resilience throughout her battle with cancer.

Charlene had faced significant and devastating trauma in her life, having lost her own mother to cancer when she was just 15 years old.

She also tragically gave birth to a stillborn baby boy the same year, which Michelle said she “never got over”.

Her trauma led her to live a chaotic lifestyle as she struggled with her issues.

However, after her diagnosis, Michelle said Charlene became determined to fight on as best she could.

Michelle, 42, said: “I’ll never forget when she told me about cancer and I said, ‘Charlene, I’m so sorry this happened to you’.

“And she said, ‘Michelle it’s nothing, I’ve been through a lot worse than that.

“It broke my heart to know that all the things she had been through in her life were worse for her than being diagnosed with cancer.

“When she was in the hospital, I just stroked her face and sang to her and told her it was good to go now and her mum, dad and baby boy were waiting for her. “



Michelle said she and Charlene shared a special bond

Charlene and her family hoped she could get over her diagnosis after learning the devastating news last year.

It was her dentist who ultimately referred Charlene to the hospital after she went, believing the pain in her throat was caused by her molars.

Specialist doctors discovered two small growths in his throat which were causing severe swelling, as well as a third large one on his esophagus.

On November 2 – exactly a month after being diagnosed – she underwent major surgery to remove the growths and her voice box, meaning she could no longer speak.

The brave Seedhill woman had to learn to breathe, swallow, eat and communicate and was left with many scars on her throat.

Michelle was thrilled when doctors told her Charlene was doing well enough to come home for Christmas, allowing them to spend it as a family for the first time in years.

She added: “We had such a great time together. It was so special that she was able to come home because we weren’t sure it would have been possible.



Charlene adored Kevin, her partner of 13 years, who was devastated by his death

“We didn’t always spend that time together, so it meant a lot that she was doing pretty well and we laughed so much.”

However, in the weeks following her round of radiotherapy earlier this year, Michelle and Kevin became increasingly worried about Charlene’s health, which had begun to deteriorate.

The treatment had left her bedridden and unable to eat, which meant she was dangerously weak and had lost a lot of weight.

Michelle continued, “We knew something was wrong. I lost my mother to cancer and seeing Charlene in that bed was like watching my mother.

“I would come by every few days and try to get her to eat and Kevin would start worrying about her and what she looked like.

“She couldn’t even stand on her own two feet.

“We eventually had to call an ambulance as she was struggling to breathe.

“When we got to the hospital, we were told she might not make it through the night.

“We were clueless.”

After fighting as best she could for several days, Michelle received the devastating news that Charlene’s organs were failing and she wasn’t going to make it.

Michelle, Kevin and her other siblings rushed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, to be by her side.

The family, who Michelle said grew closer in a “bittersweet” way, are now planning a memorial for the beloved partner, daughter and sister who adored everyone in her life.

Charlene lived for her partner Kevin and their beloved dog Kiya, and had dreamed of becoming a chef one day.



Kiya unfortunately had to fall asleep earlier this week

Kiya unfortunately had to be put to sleep this week after being diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her leg.

Michelle added: “Charlene appreciated everything and everyone she had in her life.

“She adored Kevin and her dog Kiya, who was like her baby.

“When she told me she had cancer, she was more interested in making sure I was okay.

“That’s exactly the kind of person she was.”

A fundraiser has been set up to help Charlene’s family pay for her funeral expenses.

Generous friends, relatives and fellow Buddies have already raised over £1,200.

To donate, click here

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