Telling Life

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A teenager will become a full-time “mum” to her two younger siblings after their mum tragically lost her battle with cancer.

Jo Devereux, 47, sadly died on Sunday June 13 at home in Blakelaw, Newcastle.

The tragedy means eldest daughter Erin, 19, will become the legal guardian for her siblings Liam, 14 and Lily, 12.

Jo was given between six and 12 months to live in 2019 when doctors diagnosed her with terminal cancer, Chronicle Live reports.

The 47-year-old had beaten breast cancer in 2012, but when the disease returned it had spread to her lung, liver and spine.

Mum-of-three Jo defied medics’ expectations as she bravely fought the illness for two years.

Before she died, Jo, who was not close to any other family, said Erin was “the perfect choice” to raise the youngsters because she was “a born carer” with “a heart the size of Newcastle”.

“I’ve been caring for my mum since I was 10,” Erin said.

“It’s been quite hard but it’s what I’ve got to do.”

Jo was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, but went into remission after chemotherapy and a mastectomy.

Erin said: “She managed to overcome that, it was really quick, she did amazing.

“Then in 2018 she was struggling to breathe but it took a while for them to diagnose her with cancer again – they didn’t really listen to her.”

In 2019 Jo was told that her cancer was back and had spread all over her body, with doctors giving her a prognosis of six to 12 months.

“We were taken aback, we didn’t know how it had spread so quickly,” Erin said.

“She lasted until this year and she was amazing, but it’s been a long battle trying to get her through it. It’s been very difficult.”

Jo had been on a clinical trial at the start of 2020, and the family had been enjoying making memories until the pandemic hit.

Erin said: “She was upset because she wanted to go out. It was the worst thing and the best thing that could have happened because it brought us closer together.

“She absolutely hated being ill because she loved to come downstairs and she’d been bedbound for the past few months.”

Jo’s condition gradually deteriorated since the start of the year, and she had been in and out of hospital for the past few weeks before passing away on Sunday.

Erin, who will now raise Liam and Lily, said: “It’s hard but I’ve got to be alright for the kids.

“My little brother’s not taking it so well and my sister doesn’t really know what’s happening.

“Every day’s going to be difficult, I’m not used to doing it all myself, but we’ve always been a close family.

“My partner’s been amazing and I’ve got close friends helping me.”

Erin, who got a retail job in September, said: “It’s been quite difficult to have my own life and have my own proper job. I’ve got to put my life on hold for the moment.

“My mum always said she didn’t want this on me, but I would say. ‘It’s got to be me. If it’s not me, who else is it going to be?’”

Paying tribute to her mum, Erin said: “Everyone loved her, everyone knew her name.

“She was always doing something for someone.

“You would never think she had cancer. She would be laughing and smiling all the time.”