Karen Harvey, a 36-year-old mother of three, battled breast cancer last year and won. She went through a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and surgery that involved the removal of some of her lymph nodes that were affected by the cancer. But after several months, when she was declared cancer-free and got to ring the all-clear bell, she thought the fight was over.

Then in February of this year, the mother of three lost feeling in her left arm. She consulted with nurses and was advised to visit the hospital, where she underwent extensive testing and screening. It was determined that she was suffering from lymphedema.

Photo: Adobe Stock/motortion

Lymphedema is a condition that occurs when the lymph nodes are absent or not working properly, causing lymph fluid to build up in the body without any means of escape. It is common among breast cancer patients who have had lymph nodes removed. Lymphedema is generally treated using massage, compression garments, and other techniques, and most patients live long fulfilling lives with the condition.

Shortly after this diagnosis, however, Karen also began to lose feeling in her left leg, which is much less common in breast cancer patients. She returned to the hospital for more testing and learned she had a brain tumor.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Julia

Karen then opted for surgery, which successfully removed about half of her tumor. But she was about to be dealt yet another blow—her cancer had returned and spread to both of her lungs.

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Sadly, after all she’s been through, Karen was told she only has about 12 months left to live. She will be leaving behind an 18-year-old, a 12-year-old, and a three-year-old child.

Since the most recent diagnosis, Karen’s friend of more than 18 years, Leanne Knowles, has set up a JustGiving page to raise money to help the family with their expenses and give them an opportunity to make memories with their mom while they still can.

“Karen is still fighting hard to stay alive as long as she can for her family,” says Leanne. “[She] has been through more in one year than many of us will face in a lifetime.”

Photo: Adobe Stock/Kirill Gorlov

Leanne also states that “Karen wants to go to the zoo, and they have a family holiday booked for June. We are also planning on doing some raffles. So far, we have £2,500 worth of prizes and the money will go towards paying for Karen’s funeral.”

As of this writing, the campaign has raised more than 175 percent of its £1,000 goal. Leanne is reluctant to set another specific target but says she just wants to raise as much as she can for Karen’s family, because they’re going through a lot right now.

Photo: JustGiving/Leanne Porter

“I do not want them to struggle and think they do not have enough money to do anything,” she says. “We just want to raise as much as we can for her to make as many memories as possible.”

Even though her diagnosis is terminal, Karen has done her best to stay positive. She is determined to stick around longer than the 12 months she’s been given and continue being a good mom to her children.

You’re in our thoughts, Karen. Hang in there, friend!

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