Mom Dies From Cancer After Leg Numbness Turned Out to Be Terminal Symptom

A U.K. family has paid tribute to a mom who died, following a battle with cancer that returned as she noticed her legs were going numb.

Catherine Gokcen, who lived in Southport, England, was initially diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in the fall of 2019.

The mom underwent a single mastectomy and also went through chemotherapy in order to get rid of the cancer, and was given the all-clear less than a year later.

The following year, Gokcen went to the doctors complaining that her legs felt numb, according to U.K. news outlet Lancs Live.

In June, 2021, she was told that her cancer had in fact spread from her breast to other areas of her body including her spine, liver, hip, and chest area. "We simply couldn't believe it," reads a fundraising page set up by the family.

Catherine Gokcen
A photo of Catherine Gokcen, sent by her husband Neil. Neil Gokcen

Gokcen underwent an emergency operation to remove tumors around her spine, meaning she narrowly avoided paralysis.

Doctors tried a number of different approaches to get rid of the cancer again, including three different chemotherapies. However, the family were forced to accept that the cancer was incurable.

Gokcen, described as "an absolute inspiration" who showed "true strength," passed away at her home on June 3 this year, surrounded by family.

"She will be so greatly missed by us and so many people who had the privilege to have known her," her husband Neil wrote in a Facebook post on June 4.

The Cancer Treatment Centers of America states that cancer patients can be affected by numbness for various reasons, including due to a spinal cord tumor.

This can cause numbness on both sides of the body and also lead to coordination impairments in the arms and/or legs.

The family asked that no flowers be sent in her memory and that people can instead donate to a charity skydive event being held in her honor. The skydive event will see a group of nine people jump out of a plane at 15,000 feet.

As of Friday morning, the donation page had raised roughly £15,000 of its £50,000 ($62,300) goal. The money will be donated to the Liverpool-based cancer charity Larks, an organization that offers counselling, beauty therapy, and friendship.

Person feeling their leg
A stock photo shows a person with their hands on their leg. A U.K. woman has died with a returning cancer after she noted that her legs felt numb. Pornchai Soda/Getty

Neil told Newsweek: "We're really happy with how the fundraiser has gone so far. We've a challenging target but have reached nearly £15,000 in the first five weeks since we launched.

"What's taken me aback is how many people have been touched by Catherine's story and also the volume of people who have wanted to donate to this, which was so special to her. There's a long way to go but we're hopeful we can achieve it in time for the dive which is the day before her birthday."

"Larks has a special place in Catherine's heart and has been a massive part of her experience with cancer," the JustGiving fundraiser reads.

Triple-negative breast cancer is a less common type of breast cancer, occurring in around 15 to 20 percent of breast cancer patient, according to cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

In 2018, there were 17 million new cases of cancer around the world with the four most common being lung, female breast, bowel, and prostate cancer, according to Cancer Research U.K.

Update, 6/10/22, 12:04 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a comment from Neil Gokcen and a photo of Catherine.