THEY were childhood sweethearts ready to tackle life’s challenges together.
But inseparable Michelle and John Scully faced a bigger battle than most when Michelle was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Despite knowing that each day could be her last, the mum-of-five was determined to make every second count and fought crippling pain to achieve her dream of becoming a beauty therapist.
Sadly Michelle lost her cancer fight in January, aged just 43, at Kirkwood Hospice – and her first grandchild, Lisa, was one on Easter Sunday.
The Meltham mum’s inspirational story has inspired friends and family to start fundraising in her name.
And no-one could be prouder of her than her husband, John.
John, 46, said: “My wife was the most amazing woman. She was always thinking of others and remained positive right up until her last days.
“She was my childhood sweetheart. In all our 30 years together I’ve never met another person like her and I never will again.
“I’m determined to raise funds in the hope that something good can come out of this. She would be very proud of the work we are doing.”
Michelle was baptised last year and confirmed by the Bishop of Pontefract, the Rt Rev Tony Robinson, in Kirkwood Hospice two days before her death.
The couple grew up in Leeds and met as teenagers while Michelle was still at school.
They quickly became inseparable and later married, making their home in the Seacroft area of the city before settling with their family in Elm Lane, Meltham, 15 years ago.
But in 2003 when Michelle was 35 she started feeling unwell.
John said: “Michelle was very weak. She was being sick quite a bit.
“She saw the doctor many times and was diagnosed with a few different things – firstly depression then stomach problems like a dairy intolerance – but nobody seemed to know what was wrong with her.”
Michelle continued to feel ill and in 2005 was referred to a specialist cancer unit in Birmingham.
It was there that she and John were giving the devastating news that she had a rare, highly aggressive form of cancer.
Michelle was suffering from Myxoid Liposarcoma, a large bulky tumour that arises in fat cells in deep soft tissue, usually inside the thigh or the abdominal cavity.
John said: “We were devastated. Michelle was particularly angry because she’d had the symptoms for some time.
“She’d had a lump on her buttock that doctors said was a harmless lipoma, but that’s where the tumour was and by the time surgeons operated it was the size of a small football.”
Michelle had the tumour removed followed by weeks of gruelling chemotherapy to kill the cancerous cells.
It looked like the former mobile hairdresser had beaten the disease and the couple continued to make plans for the future with their children – John, 27, Aaron, 23, Craig, 21, Ben 18, and Rebecca 15.
Michelle had always wanted to be a beauty therapist and enrolled on a course at Huddersfield’s White Rose School of Health and Beauty.
John said: “Michelle always felt the cancer would come back but she carried on living life to the full.
“She started thinking about things she’d always wanted to do and beauty therapy was one of them – she absolutely loved her course.
But in June last year the family’s life was shattered when doctors said Michelle’s cancer had returned.
This time the tumour had moved to her spine and despite an intensive course of chemotherapy, it was too aggressive and doctors told Michelle there was nothing more they could do.
John, who works for Kirklees with children with behaviour difficulties, said: “When they said it was terminal my whole world just fell apart.
“But Michelle refused to let it beat her and was determined to make every day count.
“This was typical of her as she always was the most positive person I’d ever known, so selfless and always more worried about everyone else.”