Friends and the local community have rallied around a mum fighting skin cancer by raising thousands of pounds for her young family.
Stacey Montague, 28, who has children aged two and six months, was diagnosed with advanced melanoma in December and now relies on full-time care from her fiancée and mother.
The heartbreaking story has prompted an outpouring of emotion from local people, who have raised more than £6000 for her family - with £2100 alone raised at a special afternoon tea event last week.
On an online fundraising page, Stacey’s mum Tina Montague wrote about her daughter’s condition, and said Stacey’s partner Stephen Willmot has had to give up his job to care for her.
Tina told the County Times that since then she has had to abandon her care business The Care Comfort Company - where Stacey was employed as senior carer before her diagnosis - to look after her daughter and grandchildren.
She said: “Just weeks after giving birth to her second child she found a lump under her arm, days later one on her head.
“On December 4 2015 Stacey was diagnosed as terminally ill with melanoma inoperable and incurable at stage 4. She was too advanced for preferred treatment and started daily chemotherapy in the hope of giving her more time.
“Stacey was told she would never work again, drive again or be able to care for her babies alone.”
Stacey, who lives in Partridge Green, has stage 4 melanoma, meaning the cancer has spread to another part of the body.
Tina said the money raised will be used to care for Stacey and to provide her with anything she wants or needs in the coming months.
She added: “Results after eight weeks showed the cancer/tumours had shrunk by 50 per cent. However more recent scans after feeling poorly have revealed more growth in the brain.
“Stacey wants nothing except to be a mum to her two beautiful children, all she has ever wanted since meeting Stephen seven years ago. He is now her full-time carer and keeps her wonderfully confident that she can fight this.
“Any help at all to support this beautiful wonderful young mum in her battle to see her children grow up will be gratefully received, emotional support, success stories, advice, practical help anything at all will be so gratefully received.”
Stacey grew up in Southwater - where the afternoon tea fundraiser hosted by baker Sharon Walker on Wednesday April 20 raised £2115.
Sharon explained that Stacey was a customer of her baking business Sharon’s Cakes who became a friend.
What was initially planned as a small charity event was shared several times on social media - leading to about 150 people turning up for a slice of cake.
She had hoped to raise about £200 on the day - which was attended by Tina and Stacey’s sisters - and was blown away by the support for the event.
She said: “It is a story that touched so many hearts.
“I just thought I had to do something but I never expected to have the reaction that I did. I must have had about 150 people turn up on the day.
“I didn’t think I would be walking through town with over £2000 in my bag.”
She also thanked businesses and organisations who donated a huge amount of prizes for a raffle, helping to contribute to the total, as well as friends who also supplied cakes for the visitors.
Baker Sharon Walker describes the feeling leading up to the charity day and the success of the event.
“In December, I received the tragic news that one of my lovely customers Stacey had been diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma cancer.
“I read over her message again and again with disbelief that something so advanced could just creep up on someone so young.
“It dawned on me that there must be something that I could do quickly and simply to help them. I could host a little afternoon tea party at my house! I invited everyone that I knew locally. Within minutes people were responding.
“My phone was constantly ‘pinging’ with messages, emails, Facebook messages both business and private coming through with offers of prizes, help on the day, post shares and people asking ‘can I bring a friend?’
“I was truly humbled by the way in which our community were pulling together for such a great cause. We were all so totally overwhelmed by the number of people that came to support Stacey and her family.
“Stacey’s mum came along with a friend and we briefly exchanged looks of shock as I frantically tried to cut cake for people.
“So many people passed comment on how wonderful it was that a community had come together for something that had obviously touched people’s hearts. We raised a staggering £2115.97 and the donations are still coming in.
“This week, we are holding a silent auction for items that we felt were of individual taste or too high value to be entered into the raffle. Details will be published on my Facebook page: www.facebook.com/cakesbysharonwalker”
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