Sarah, Hazel's sister, shares her story
Before the cancer Hazel was a highland dancer – a sport she loved and excelled in. One of the hardest things to cope with was the fact that she needed to have an operation to remove the tumour from her right leg – which reduced her leg to a weakened state.
My family and I were all so upset about this - but Hazel coped. Despite knowing that she would never walk properly again never mind dance again, she was determined not to let it get in the way of her day to day life.
Her first year battling the cancer was a tough one - the very first day she entered the hospital to get a Hickman line inserted (for administrating chemotherapy) a mistake meant that instead of a routine operation taking 10 minutes, Hazel's main veins were ruptured and she cardiac arrested three times as her blood pressure dropped. After 19 blood transfusions she was eventually taken to intensive care and stabilised. That night was the most horrible for our family - we all thought we would lose her that night. But her heart was strong and she fought back.
Many would wonder why she survived only to suffer another year and a half before she lost her battle with cancer. I hold onto the fact that she was determined to stay with us and share more memories (and we did have some good times throughout her treatment) for as long as possible.
After her main leg operation in April 2008, Hazel taught herself to walk again and when she continued her chemotherapy sessions decided to organise a charity night with her friend Ruth to raise money for cancer. She never slowed down, and it must have been a struggle for her as her treatment weakened her, making her very tired. Yet the two girls managed to raise over £25,000 on 5th September 2008 with over 350 people attending. That was a very proud moment for Hazel and for us all.
She finished her chemotherapy in December 2008 and remained a strong and positive force for us all - she continued to give us hope that she may beat the cancer, that the chemotherapy had worked. For almost three months at the beginning of 2009 Hazel organised a trip to Spain using money raised by my amazing work colleagues and there she had a time of respite and relaxation. She could just be Hazel again and not be 'Hazel with cancer'.
After she came home we all continued to hope and believe that the cancer had been beaten - she saw her friends, we went on mini breaks, we had parties, nights out and Hazel lived life as any normal girl in her early twenties would. Never did she complain, never did she become negative as I am sure so many would when faced with a situation like that.
Then in June 2009 the family arranged a holiday to Italy which was fantastic and full of beautiful sights. At that point we knew that Hazel was having problems - the cancer had grown back in her lungs and she was waiting for the doctors to confirm if she could go on a drug trial. However she still had a good time in Italy and it will be a cherished memory for the fact that Hazel was able to come and enjoy our last family holiday abroad together.
After returning Hazel discovered her shortness of breath was due to an infection and build up of fluids in her lungs. The doctors broke the news in July that she was unable to take part in the trial and that no more chemotherapy would be administered. We were all devastated but Hazel continued to give us support with her cheerful acceptance and happy outlook. We were told that we had 4 quality weeks left with Hazel - she lived for another 4 months. That, if nothing else is a testament to Hazel's bravery and strength of spirit.
She knew her body was failing but she stayed with us for as long as she could. In the end it was a relief when she died - it was peaceful and in her sleep. Her last two weeks on earth were the worst as she was unable to physically do anything and that more than anything else was what caused Hazel pain.
I am proud to have known her - and everyone around her was blessed to have such a strong and wonderful person in their life. She made her 25th birthday and despite her physical weakness that day, it was a lovely day filled with joy and laughter.
And that is what I will remember about Hazel. Joy and laughter. Right until the end.