A BRAVE intensive care nurse diagnosed with rare cancer just weeks after her dream wedding has died of the disease.
Julia Cullen, 27, from Hartlepool, won plaudits for her no-holds-barred insight into life battling a rare form of leukaemia.
The fit and healthy nurse fell ill just weeks after marrying her beloved fiance, Peter, 29, in October 2018.
She underwent gruelling treatment programmes to combat the disease – only for it to return aggressively in February.
Julia died at home in her sleep last week surrounded by her devastated family.
She lost her mum, Cath, who was also a nurse, to the cruel disease four years ago.
Heartbroken Peter wrote on Facebook: “I need to let everybody who knew my beautiful wife Julia Cullen know that tonight she unfortunately passed away after a long battle with leukaemia.
“She went peacefully in her sleep surrounded by her family. Thank you for all for your support during this difficult past year.
“Goodnight darling be at peace I will never forget you.”
Julia’s dad Graham, 57, sister Louisa, 28, brother Ste, 41, and twin Jack tragically lost their mum, Cath, 61, also a nurse, to bowel cancer in May 2016.
The family has now launched an appeal in support of Anthony Nolan and encouraged people to sign up as stem cell donors.
Louisa said: “My best friend, my soul, my rock, my beautiful brave sister, took her last breath last night.
“It’s been such a hard journey for her and us all over the last year from her diagnosis.
Goodnight darling be at peace I will never forget you.
“Julia, we always said we could get through anything as long as we have each other, so I’m a bit lost what to do in life now.”
Julia had shared blunt photos on Instagram from her 15-month fight to show how cancer does not discriminate.
She told her followers after being diagnosed aged 26: “If there’s anything I want to do after going through this experience of cancer, it’s to raise awareness that it’s happening.
“It’s happening to the young and old, the fit and unfit, the employed and the unemployed.
“It’s happening now and it could happen to you. Yes. You.
“It isn’t glamorous, it isn’t a story – it’s hard, it’s painful, it’s gruelling, it’s terrifying.”
In her Instagram story, Julia told how she then spotted spots on her legs and messaged Louisa: “I’ve Googled it, I’ve got leukaemia.”
Julia was admitted to a hospital ward in January 2019, where doctors dropped the bombshell that she had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia – a blood cancer rare in adults and mainly found in children.
In Julia’s Instagram story, she tells how she went pink after an allergic reaction to antibiotics and how shaving her head was “freeing yet upsetting as f***”.
She shared the highs of spending time with her friends and the lows of having to have a plastic tube – known as a Hickman line – fed through her chest.
In February, she wrote on Instagram of her determination to win her fight, and said: “You will get through it.
“You won’t ‘fight it’ as people say, you’ll ‘face’ it. You’ll face it with whoever and whatever you have to. Because life is precious. So be thankful. Always thankful.”
Brother Jack, a hospital porter, said: “Words can’t describe how heartbroken and devastated I am to lose my twin sister.
“I love you so much and I will continue to look after our wonderful family.”
To support and donate to the family's appeal visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/louisa-siddle-1
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