Young mother loses brave cancer battle

Lisa with her husband Robbie and baby Orla
Lisa with her husband Robbie and baby Orla
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IT should have been one of the happiest days of their lives and a joyful occasion to share with their family and friends.

When Lisa Ruthven, 22, and Robbie Robertson, 21, set eyes on each other it was love at first sight. The couple, who have a 22-month-old daughter Orla together, always knew they would marry one day and were saving to buy a house.

Lisa with daughter Orla

Lisa with daughter Orla

But their plans for the future were thrown into turmoil when Lisa was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the bile ducts in October last year.

Three months after the devastating diagnosis, Robbie and Lisa got engaged and booked their wedding at Edinburgh’s Norton House Hotel and Spa for June this year in the hope that Lisa would continue her brave battle against the rare form of cancer.

But they were forced to bring their wedding forward – and change the venue – after her condition rapidly deteriorated over the last three weeks.

Less than 24 hours after the heart-wrenching ceremony at Lisa’s bedside on Wednesday night, she passed away.

Lisa was too ill to change into the wedding dress she had picked out just two weeks before, but wore a tiara during the ceremony in her bedroom at her Dalkeith home.

Today, the family paid tribute to the “inspirational” mother-of-one, who put up a courageous fight against the disease over the last four months.

Lisa’s mum Diane Moffett, 41, said: “We were told it was terminal in October and there was nothing they could do and that she would be lucky to see Christmas [last year], which was a big blow to us all.

“She was such an inspirational girl and our hearts are all broken. She has been taken away so young when she had so much to live for.”

She added: “Lisa was just a unique girl – there was nobody else like her. I’m so proud to call her my daughter. She will always be in my heart.”

Brave Lisa was unable to leave her bed for the short wedding ceremony but found the strength to sign her name on the paperwork.

It was conducted by Reverend Keith Mack from St John’s and King’s Park church in Dalkeith at around 10.30pm, with Robbie and Lisa surrounded by close family. Tomorrow, exactly a week after the wedding, Rev Mack will lead the funeral service for Lisa.

Robbie said: “Lisa managed to mumble ‘yes’ [during the ceremony] when she needed to, which was all she had said that day, nothing before and nothing after – it was like she had saved all her energy for that.

“She said she really wanted to have the same surname as Orla before she passed away.

“Lisa wanted Orla to have her engagement ring and wedding ring so I wasn’t prepared to send her off with nothing. I bought a plain platinum band so she has a ring to go with.

“I have still not been able to look at her wedding dress.”

Lisa had been feeling unwell for around 18 months before the shock diagnosis, but doctors put it down to Crohn’s disease. She was diagnosed with the condition at the age of ten, but had defied medical opinion to go on and have baby Orla.

Diane said: “Lisa was told at 17 that she wouldn’t have a family but then a wee miracle happened. She met Robbie – her first boyfriend – and they had Orla.”

The birth was far from easy however – Orla was eight weeks premature and weighed just two pounds 12 ounces. Then, at ten days old, she found herself battling meningitis.

“It was touch and go whether or not she was going to survive,” Diane added.

Lisa and Robbie met in 2008 while working in the same department of Scottish Widows in Edinburgh. Robbie still works at the company as a pension administrator.

He said: “We had always spoken about marriage but it wasn’t going to be until we were a bit older. I wanted to be engaged at 26 and married at 28 but after Lisa was diagnosed, I ordered an engagement ring.”

Robbie, who lives in Livingston, popped the question at The Park Bistro in Linlithgow on January 29 and Lisa accepted.

Lisa, a former Dalkeith High pupil, lived with her mum and Orla in Woodburn, Dalkeith, but the couple were saving up for a deposit so they could buy a house together.

Lisa dreamed of one day becoming a primary school teacher and was twice accepted to study at Moray House, but had to pull out both times due to ill health.

She endured 12 weeks of chemotherapy at the Western General in a bid to battle the cancer, which spread to her liver and stomach.

Robbie said: “Lisa said from day one if she was to take unwell then I was to lift her up and take her to the registry office.

“We had been trying to say, ‘Lisa, we need to bring the wedding forward’, but she was adamant it was going to be at the Norton House Hotel and Spa on the 16th of June. She put up a very strong fight.

“We had given her hurdles to get towards like Christmas and her wee brother Declan’s 13th birthday on the 20th of February. The next one would’ve been my birthday in March and Orla’s second birthday in April, and then the wedding in June.”

Lisa’s father Scott Ruthven, 42, a team leader with freight company Nightfreight in Livingston, added: “The wedding was another date for her to work towards to keep her going.”

Lisa purchased a Links of London bracelet for Orla a few days after her diagnosis and a different charm for her next few birthdays. She even bought birthday cards for Orla but tragically never managed to write them.

She passed away peacefully at home just after 4pm on Thursday, surrounded by close family.

In a heartfelt tribute, family and friends released Chinese lanterns from their homes on Saturday night.

Diane said: “It was amazing, the whole sky lit up.”

Diane, who was Lisa’s carer and also works as a carer for Housecall, added: “Lisa was loving, caring and thought of everybody else apart from herself right up to the bitter end. She was inspirational and a devoted mother, daughter, sister and wife. She touched the hearts of everyone.”

Lisa also leaves behind her sisters, twins Kirsty and Erin, six, and two brothers Declan, 13, and Patrick, eight.

The funeral will take place at Mortonhall Crematorium Main Chapel tomorrow at 2pm.

Mystery killer

BILE duct cancer is rare, with around 1000 new cases each year in the UK.

The cause of most bile duct cancers is unknown although there are a number of risk factors that can increase the chance of developing the disease.

Cancer in the bile ducts can block the flow of bile from the liver to the intestine. This causes bile to flow back into the blood and body tissues, and the skin and whites of the eyes to become jaundiced.

Treatment depends on the position and size of the cancer and how far it has spread.