The family of a young teacher who died aged 28 from breast cancer are backing a festival appeal to help other patients like the tragic mum.
Hayley Whitehead, from Lowedges, died surrounded by her heartbroken relatives at Weston Park Hospital just four months after being diagnosed with the disease.
The teacher left behind a daughter Annabella, three, and had planned to have a second child with her husband Stephen before her death.
Now her family is supporting the Christmas Stars Appeal, backed by The Star and held in aid of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.
Hayley, who taught at Greenhill Primary School, was referred to the hospital in May 2013 after visiting her GP suffering with an unusual pain.
She underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy but soon lost her brave battle against the cancer.
Hayley’s mum Gaynor said: “It’s so cruel. It hits you like a sledgehammer. I didn’t only lose my daughter - she was also my best friend. I saw Hayley every day and we were always doing things together like shopping and holidays.
“Annabella keeps us all going and we have to stay strong for her.
“This Christmas, there will be a huge hole where Hayley should have been but by supporting the appeal we can at least be assured that we’re making a big difference to families that may be facing a similar diagnosis.”
Everyone who donates will receive a silver star to hang on their Christmas tree.
Proceeds will go towards funding research and better treatments. Stephen has already raised £2,500 for the charity by joining friends on a 175-mile bike ride.
Hayley’s family has also vowed to raise awareness of the importance of checking for signs of breast cancer.
“It’s so important that people are more aware of their own bodies,” Gaynor added.
n Visit www.christmasstarappeal.org.uk to donate.