Brave cancer victim dies days before wedding

A YOUNG lung cancer sufferer who vowed to beat the disease to make it to her wedding day has died just days before she was due to be married.

Laura Mackenzie, 24, of Dalmeny, South Queensferry, had been set to wed fiance Richard Hagger this weekend.

Instead, hundreds of family members and friends were expected to gather for a humanist funeral service, being held at Queensferry Primary School this morning.

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Laura died suddenly last Tuesday after fighting terminal lung cancer for more than two years.

Her father, Duncan Mackenzie, 54, said he felt "robbed", but insisted the ceremony would be a celebration of his daughter's life.

He has vowed to carry on her campaign to raise awareness of the disease, which also killed her mother 19 years ago.

The family have hired a pink hearse and pink limousine for the funeral, and the hall at the primary school will be decorated with pink bows and balloons. Mr Mackenzie said Laura had never given up hope right to the end and had been "an inspiration" to hundreds of people because of the way she had dealt with the disease.

"She had been getting everything ready, right up to the end, and she had just been playfully telling Richard off when she collapsed," he said.

"It is such a tragedy for her and Richard that she could not make it to her wedding day."

The couple had been due to marry at the Apex Hotel in the Grassmarket on Sunday.

Mr Mackenzie has told everyone attending the funeral to wear bright colours, as that is what his daughter would have wanted. They will also play her favourite music, by bands such as the Spice Girls.

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Laura, a fitness instructor, spoke to the Evening News last year about how shocked she was to be diagnosed with the disease, as she had never smoked and lived what health experts said was a "model" life.

She was first diagnosed with the disease in 2007, a year after first noticing the symptoms. At the time she was on her first date with Richard, also a fitness instructor, but when she started suffering severe pain and had difficulty breathing he forced her to go to hospital.

It was nine months later that she was told it was cancer, and she vowed at the time to make it to her wedding day no matter what.

But despite far exceeding the six months doctors had initially given her to live, she was not able to make it to her big day.

"It was just a case of her going to sleep almost, and that is for the best, as the doctors said the next few months would have been absolute agony for her," said Mr Mackenzie.

"She was in such pain, but she never let on – she was incredibly brave. She led us all the way."

Laura had worked hard to raise awareness of the disease in the last year, helping organisations such as the Roy Castle Foundation by speaking out about her condition.

Mr Mackenzie said she had left behind a book of poems and a diary of her experiences which they planned to use to help other people.

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"We knew about the poems – I will be reading one at the service – but we had no idea about the book," admitted Mr Mackenzie. "It is amazing, and it records exactly what she was going through.

She would not have wanted us to be sad – she lived life to the full right to the end, and she would want us to remember her smile and her enthusiasm."

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