Karen Lloyd, of Freshbrook, was a force of nature who, even through a taxing battle with breast cancer, continued to spread her infectious love of life and laughter wherever she went.
Karen, or Moosie, as she was lovingly nicknamed by her husband Alan, died at Prospect Hospice on Tuesday – just six months after being diagnosed with stage three cancer. She was just 51.
But through the months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and the doctors’ terminal prognosis, the mother-of-two, who was notorious for her obsession with Costa Coffee and passion for shopping, never allowed herself to abandon hope or shed tears.
Her close friend Lynzi Barrett, who supported her over the last six months, remembered Karen as the life of the party “She was such a popular girl and her personality was infectious,” said Lynzi, 53, of Rod-bourne Cheney.
“She was so funny and she would come up with any excuse for a coffee or a party.
“She loved her bling and if you could have seen all the jewellery and clothes she possessed, she would have put Debenhams to shame. But mostly she was a devoted mother.”
In June last year, Karen was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer after a mass half the size of her breast was spotted by specialists at the Great Western Hospital.
She immediately received a course of chemotherapy.
Always the optimist, she treated her diagnosis as an opportunity to raise funds for the hospital’s breast cancer unit.
As she began to lose her hair, she opted to shave it all off and went on to raise £2,000 for the ward. In November she started experiencing debilitating headaches and uncontrollable bouts of sickness.
This forced surgeons to cancel an operation to remove the mass on her breast and Karen to postpone the post-surgery ‘boob’ party she had planned.
On December 12, just days after her wedding anniversary and her birthday, she discovered the cancer had spread to her spinal fluid and was given between two weeks and two months to live.
A week later, she was admitted to Prospect Hospice where she died on February 4.
Until the very end she was supported by her friends, including Dawn Stephens, who she called her “rock”, her husband and relatives.
“On December 12, I went to see her after she found out the cancer was incurable,” said Lynzi.
“She cried for five seconds and stopped instantly. I told her a few jokes and she laughed.
“Throughout, I saw her cry about four times. She would always stop immediately and say something funny.
“She didn’t feel sorry for herself, and she took it in her stride. She was so selfless and brave. All her thoughts were for her boys.
“She called her breast tumour Tilly, that’s just the kind of person she was.”
Her funeral at Christ Church in Old Town on Valentine’s Day, at 11am, will mirror her quirky personality and eccentricity, with a customised coffin sporting Costa Coffee’s logo and an image of her favourite hot drink.
“The Costa logo was Alan’s idea,” said Lynzi. “She would have loved it. She would crack up if she saw this at a funeral.”
Karen leaves two sons Harry, 19, and Eddie, 15, and her widower Alan. The family is encouraging those who knew her to make a donation to Prospect in her memory.
Prospect Hospice 160 appeal – Pages 6 & 7