Wednesday 21 August 2019

'She was just too young to leave us all' - tributes paid to mum-of-two who died after being diagnosed with 'silent killer'

Tina Potts (40), from Newtownmountkennedy in Co Wicklow, with her husband Johnny Harris
Tina Potts (40), from Newtownmountkennedy in Co Wicklow, with her husband Johnny Harris
‘Not going to be a next year’: Tina Potts (40) with sons Philip (19) and Elliott (10) and partner Jonathan Harris, who she will wed this month
Tina Potts was diagnosed in December 2017

Sarah Slater

A terminally-ill woman who was told by doctors she has only months to live and managed to meet with one of her music idols from, Take That, has passed away surrounded by her family.

Band member, Mark Owen, went out of his way to ensure he met Mum of two Tina Potts, from Ballyguile, Co Wicklow last April at the 3Arena.

Despite being bed ridden in hospital, 40-year-old Tina, who had ovarian cancer, summoned the energy and with the approval of her medical team, saw her favourite band live in concert for one last time.

Ms Potts, a mother-of-two was given a 30 per cent chance of living until Christmas as she  bravely fighting the silent female killer.

‘Not going to be a next year’: Tina Potts (40) with sons Philip (19) and Elliott (10) and partner Jonathan Harris, who she will wed this month
‘Not going to be a next year’: Tina Potts (40) with sons Philip (19) and Elliott (10) and partner Jonathan Harris, who she will wed this month

Her cancer was diagnosed at a late stage due to suffering symptoms, which included fatigue, bloating, bowel changes and a build-up of fluid in her abdomen.

She had been urging women to get themselves checked out by medics for peace of mind.

Close friend Laura Ryan said: “Unfortunately Tina passed away around midday on Wednesday but was surrounded by everyone whom she loved and loved her unconditionally.

“It’s just so upsetting for everyone. She was just too young to leave us all at this time of her life. Tina was really a great person and wonderful friend.”

The mum, who was permanently confined to a wheelchair due to her crippling illness, had bought standing tickets for the Take That concerts prior to becoming so unwell but found out that the disability section in the 3Arena was full.

Cancer awareness advocate Vicky Phelan also rowed in calling on concert and venue management to help Ms Potts.

Tina Potts was diagnosed in December 2017
Tina Potts was diagnosed in December 2017

Thanks to Laura, whom she met while standing in a queue to see them on RTÉ’s Late Late Show decades ago, her devastation about not being able to go turned to utter excitement as concert promoters MCD turned her standing tickets to wheelchair accessible, following a successful Twitter campaign.

The band made contact with her to say singer Mark Owen wanted to meet with her.

Laura added: “I’ve never felt so accomplished about anything in my life to be honest. I couldn’t have been happier for anyone than I was for Tina when she told me about meeting him.”

Ms Potts told Independent.ie earlier this year that ovarian cancer can be hard to identify as symptoms such as abdominal bloating, indigestion, changes to bowel movements and tiredness can often be dismissed as other ailments.

She explained: “The last two years have been a bit of a shock, I initially went to the doctor because I’d been having lower back pain for about four or five years and they said I had osteoarthritis.

“Then I went in and said something wasn’t right because I was falling asleep and so tired, I knew it wasn’t me, they said I had hypothyroidism.

“I thought that explains why I couldn’t lose weight, every day I’d been walking, eating well, doing exercise and I still couldn’t shift it.

“I then noticed that if I ate as much as half a cup of soup I felt sick and by that stage I looked about nine months pregnant, I was a little bit constipated and I stopped being regular with my bowel movements, I just knew this couldn’t all be down to my thyroid.

“My doctor said he thought I was constipated from the thyroid medication and he suggested Senokot.

“I went for a second opinion and was told they weren’t happy about my bloating so they sent me in for an ultrasound.”

She continued to say: “We were absolutely floored, the thing with ovarian cancer is it’s very hard to detect and I genuinely didn’t know anything about it before this before this.

“When I started researching it online I felt sick, it’s known as the ‘silent killer’ because all the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be explained away by other ailments, like bloating, pains in your side.”

Ms Potts also said that she wants to raise awareness about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and how it can be detected.

Her advice to others is: “Pound your doctors, fight for yourself because your doctor might say you’re constipated or that you have IBS or a period issue.

“Trust your gut, you know your body if something doesn’t feel right, ask for a CA125 blood test, an ultrasound or a pelvic exam, they’re three things that give you a high chance of spotting ovarian cancer.”

Her death notice on rip.ie reads: “(Tina passed away) peacefully at St Vincent’s University Hospital, Dublin. Sadly missed by her loving husband Johnny, her sons Philip and Elliott, Dad James, cousins Siobhan and Allison, extended family, relatives and friends.”

“Her family have asked mourners to donate, if desired, to Wicklow Cancer Support.”

Mrs Potts remains are to be cremated in a private ceremony.

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