Relay will honour 'mum-in-a-million'

By Hannah Norton

Sophie and Abbey Taylor believe their mummy is now a butterfly who watches over them - they simply can't see her.

That's what their father Jeremy told them when hundreds of butterflies were released as part of their mum Jaime's funeral. "We told the girls that it's like mummy now - she's got wings," Jeremy said.

His wife, 32, passed away a few weeks ago after a two-year battle with cancer. And in a remarkable feat of dedication and strength, her husband will join the two butterfly-themed teams in the Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Jaime's honour this month.

"By participating in Relay, we have the opportunity to support and help others fight back. In doing so, we honour those who have travelled this road before," he said.

The teams are from Independent Petroleum, where Jeremy works, and the Whangarei branch of Westpac, where Jaime worked.

The couple met playing badminton, were engaged in a butterfly sanctuary in Australia, and married in 2007.

Jaime adopted Jeremy's son, Ashley, 13, then had Sophie, 3, and Abbey, nearly 2, with Jeremy. "She lived for her family and was an inspiration to everyone she knew, with her strength, courage and unconditional love."

Jaime found a lump under her arm while breast-feeding Abbey six weeks after the birth, and was diagnosed with grade-four breast cancer which is "the nastiest version you can get".

She had a full mastectomy a month later.

Jeremy said: "I was very, very scared. This is not what you are thinking about when you've got a new baby. Jaime was only 30."

Jaime had chemo every three weeks for 15 months and at the start of this year began weekly radiation treatment.

Jeremy described her as a "mum-in-a-million" who played with her children despite chemo's ravages.

When doctors told Jeremy the spreading cancer and its complications would soon be terminal, the family took Jaime home.

"I told her that if she ever felt she needed to go, just wake me up. She did, and how she did that, I don't know, but the last thing she ever said to me was, 'I love you'."

"Finding your soulmate is a rarity. It just makes losing them even harder," he said.

While Abbey was a little young to absorb the enormity of their loss - "there's quite a few times where Sophie has sobbed her little heart out, saying 'I miss mummy'," Jeremy said.

"My message to others, if something feels unusual or different, get it checked by your GP immediately - don't wait."

Northland's seventh Relay for Life will take place on March 16-17, at Otaika Sports Park, Whangarei.

- Northern Advocate

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