Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

New mum loses cancer battle

Ruthee Carnegie died on Boxing Day, two years after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Photo / Supplied
Ruthee Carnegie died on Boxing Day, two years after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Photo / Supplied

A woman who discovered she had brain cancer weeks before giving birth to a baby girl has lost her battle against the disease.

Ruthee Carnegie died on Boxing Day surrounded by her family just two years after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

The 38-year-old former child cancer charity worker received the diagnosis of a malignant and inoperable brain tumour in late 2013 midway through her pregnancy - and not long after celebrating her first wedding anniversary.

The birth was able to go ahead after the first-time mum had specialist radiation treatment to the brain to avoid harming her unborn child.

Little Abigail Rose Carnegie was welcomed into the family on February 6, 2014.

On Valentine's Day, Mrs Carnegie posted a picture of her daughter to her Facebook friends with a message of heartfelt adoration.

"I am privileged to be married to the most AMAZING husband, and now Daddy to our darling Abigail Rose Carnegie, Harley Carnegie I love you. Happy Valentines day (sic)," she wrote.

But, in a tragic turn of events, Mrs Carnegie died a day after Christmas despite feeling well enough to return to work at cancer charity Cure Kids after her daughter's first birthday.

In a tribute on a newly created givealittle page, friend Debbie Clark spoke of how Mrs Carnegie "shone and shared her love widely".

She said there was no one her friend loved more than her husband and baby daughter.

"In the midst of this challenging time Ruthee was resolute in her faith and her intention to embrace life in all its fullness," she wrote.

"Ruth and Harley devoted themselves to Abigail and continued their generous service to others, including Ruth's return to work with Cure Kids earlier this year."

The page was a way for people to express their love, care and ongoing support to Harley and Abigail in this next season, she said.

Ms Clark described it as a "long journey" since the frightening diagnosis was confirmed just over two years ago.

So far $11,920 had been donated to the bereaved family.

The money given would relieve financial pressure and allow the self-employed Mr Carnegie to provide care for his daughter during the transition period, she said.

Family spokesman Strahan Wallis said the cherished mum and wife lived a life where she made a difference in the world.

"She touched so many people in her life and in her journey and battle with her cancer. She was a courageous, beautiful woman who had a strong faith till the end," he said.

Mr Wallis said she adored her children's charity work which took on a very personal dimension in the past year.

"She had a deep connection with the cause, particularly as she was going through her own journey."

He said the family was grateful and overwhelmed by the friendship, love and support shown by so many people over the course of her illness.

- NZ Herald

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