THE mother of tragic Sheryle Mullen, who died hours after singing karaoke in a city pub, has told how she fears that her daughter’s breast cancer treatment led to her death.
Maureen Mullen suspects that the cocktail of drugs that her oldest child was taking to beat the disease meant her weakened body “just gave in”.
Mrs Mullen said her daughter was brave in the face of her cancer battle, but fears she just could not cope with the drugs she had been prescribed.
She said: “She was having reconstructive work from a mastectomy, but it hadn’t been completed. She was being treated with strong drugs and Valium to help her sleep.
“She never took illegal drugs and didn’t drink too much. I think that the cancer and treatment wore her down and her body just gave in.”
Cancer sufferers can be prescribed drugs including Herceptin, a powerful medicine which can cause heart problems, and morphine for pain relief.
Mrs Mullen, 66, said she will only gain “closure” after learning what caused her daughter’s death.
She said: “I need to find out the exact cause, I need to know how my daughter died. My heart has been broken and it will stay broken, but an answer would give me some closure.”
Mrs Mullen was left devastated after the 46-year-old passed away on September 15 in the Clermiston flat of web designer Philip Lockwood.
The pair met the previous night and sung a karaoke duet of Love Me Tender at the Volunteers Arms on Leith Walk.
Mr Lockwood, 55, awoke to find her dead, sparking an inquiry by the Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit (SFIU).
Her mother paid tribute to the music-loving mother-of-two who “lived for her children” and looked forward to a future free of illness.
The retired nursing home worker, who lives in Dunbar, said: “It was my sister-in-law who phoned to tell me what had happened. She said, ‘I’m so sorry but Sheryle has passed away’. I just broke down. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.
“Sheryle was looking forward to the future. Her son, Rion, had a new girlfriend and was moving out of her house and she was enjoying getting his place ready.
“Sheryle always loved singing karaoke. Her favourite music was Bob Marley and Bob Dylan. She liked going out in Leith, where she had lots of friends, but because she was usually tired from her illness she didn’t get out that much.”
After being diagnosed with cancer five years ago, Sheryle started treatment at the Western General Hospital, later having a mastectomy, and she continued to undergo hospital treatment until her death.
Her mother said: “Sheryle was a strong woman with a tough attitude. She said to me, ‘Mum, I’m going to beat this’.
“She never felt sorry for herself and would come across as the usual happy-go-lucky Sheryle, but it was partly an act. The disease was hard on her and it took its toll on her body.”
Sheryle’s death certificate said that the cause remains “unascertained”. The Crown Office today confirmed that the SFIU investigation was ongoing.
Mrs Mullen, who suffered a stroke four years ago which affected her mobility, added: “Sheryle was a great daughter. I couldn’t have asked for more. She was kind and gentle and could talk for Scotland. She lived for her children above everything and was so happy to become a gran. I hope that’s how people remember her.”
Clinical trials have found that Herceptin, which can both fight breast cancer and reduce the risk of its reoccurrence, caused cardiac damage in some patients, such as weakened heart muscle. It is typically administered in hospital, and patients’ hearts are tested before they start and during treatment.
In 2010, top oncologist Professor Steven Heys, of Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, credited the development of drugs like Herceptin with dramatically improving breast cancer survival rates.