A mum who hoped to spend a last Christmas with her family has tragically died – just days after she celebrated her 40th birthday.
Natasha Banks was diagnosed with terminal cancer in March this year after she felt discomfort while eating a takeaway.
The former veterinary nurse had been completely healthy up until that point, ChronicleLive reports.
She went to hospital for scans and was told the devastating news.
Medics diagnosed Natasha, of Ashington, Northumberland, with neuroendocrine tumours and said she had just a year to live.
Although she did not make it to 12 months, she managed to see her two older sons turn 16 and 18.
She also made it to her own 40th birthday just five days before she died, on November 11.
But sadly she did not get her dearest wish – to spend one last Christmas with her husband and three sons.
Her husband Gareth, 34, said: "She really wanted to get to Christmas, it was her favourite time of the year.
"She’d already ordered an eight-foot polar bear for the garden."
The couple married in 2013 after a whirlwind romance, having met through Facebook.
He said: "I proposed to her two months after, I moved up here and got a job transfer.
"We got married eight months later and I never looked back."
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She had two sons, Nathan and Joshua, from a previous marriage, and she and Gareth, 34, welcomed their son Oscar five years ago.
For the last two years, Natasha had worked for the Cats Protection Society as a Cat Welfare Learning Officer – a job she loved.
The family’s happy life was turned upside down in March when she complained "something wasn’t right" with her stomach.
She went into hospital for tests and a week later was told she had neuroendocrine cancer, Gareth said.
The mum-of-three had six rounds of emergency chemotherapy.
Gareth said doctors were going to give her a three-month break and give her a scan in January to talk about more treatment.
He added: "They had given her 12 months to live in April.
"But it’s a shame she didn’t make it to Christmas, that’s what she really wanted."
In the last two weeks, Natasha suffered a dramatic decline in her health and died at home with her family around her.
A family friend has started an online fundraising page to help give the three boys the best Christmas possible as they face the first festive season without their mum.
Paying tribute, Gareth said: "She was all about family, she would do absolutely anything for her family.
"She was really loving and just wanted the best for us, for her lads.
"The moment she found out about the diagnosis her attitude was just, head down and concentrate on sorting everything out for me and the boys – and she did."
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