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Emma Betts, founder of 'Dear Melanoma,' has passed away aged 25.

Emma Betts, founder of Dear Melanoma, has passed away aged 25.

On Sunday morning, her father Leon shared a message on the Dear Melanoma Facebook page.

“All good things must come to an end,” he wrote. “At around 11:40 last night Emma peacefully passed away with Serge, Tamra and I at her side.”

“I think my Mum summed things up rather succinctly…Emma achieved so much in 25 years, just imagine what she would have achieved if she lived to a ripe old age!”

Mia Freedman recently interviewed Emma Betts in an extremely moving episode of No Filter. Post continues after audio.

Leon wanted those who knew Emma or were touched by her story to know that her death doesn’t signify the end of Dear Melanoma or Love, Emma (a site dedicated to care packages for life’s hardest moments).

“Maybe too late for Emma, but there are a lot of people that Emma still wants to save…this is her legacy and we will honour it,” wrote Leon.

Mia Freedman recently interviewed Emma, who knew she had only months to live.

Emma was volunteering in East Timor when she found the mole on her shoulder. “A stranger pointed it out, and said I should get it checked,” she recalled. She came back to Australia, where a biopsy was performed and found it was something similar to melanoma but not quite. Emma was told she needed to return to Brisbane from East Timor every three months for check-ups.

Emma dreamed of working in international aide. She’d been studying international relations at university and she always wanted a family.

Emma, Serge, and their dog. Image supplied.
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“I knew I’d come back to Australia eventually. I was going to be one of the first of my friendship group to have kids,” she said. “The mole didn’t really scare me, I knew what I had to do. I just had to be careful.”

She was careful. She returned to Australia every three months. She did self-checks frequently. When she found a lump under her arm, she hoped it was due to the Dengue fever she’d had a few weeks before.

The doctors did a biopsy to see if it the lump was cancerous – this would mean stage three cancer, and a high risk of being diagnosed with terminal cancer within five years.

“It quickly turned from there being a 70 per cent change of being terminal in five years, to me being 22 with terminal cancer," she said.

There was no such thing as five years.

"My melanoma has been bad luck,” she said, shrugging.

Emma and Serge. Image supplied.

For three years, Emma lived with stage four cancer, much longer than anyone predicted - she was given three months at age 22. She tried different drugs and was involved in clinical trials. The treatments were working for a time, and she discharged herself from palliative care. But five months ago Emma started a phase one clinical trial and it didn't work. The cancer spread through her body. Doctors couldn't operate.

In February, Emma told Mia Freedman, "I had eight litres of fluid drained from my body the other day. It looked like I was nine months pregnant."

Then she paused.

“The people I’ve known with cancer who’ve died, they had fluid build up in the weeks before they passed. I can’t help but think ‘does this mean the end for me?'”

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She wanted to live for six more months, maybe to reach her 26th birthday.

Emma's husband Serge was an unwavering source of support throughout the last few years of her life.

Emma met Serge when she came back to Brisbane for one of her check-ups. When she came back for the biopsy on the lump under her arm, she was more exited to see him than she was worried about having cancer. Their first date was in a hospital ward.

Emma Betts. Image via Facebook.

Then, they were married. “It was a conversation in the shower. Me saying, ‘You can go’. Him saying, ‘Let's get married’", Emma said. “We bought a dog. Bought a unit. I wanted normality.”

Speaking about her funeral, Emma said she wanted Daryl Braithwaite’s Horses to be played because “it’s the song that always gets me and my friends up and dancing. Once, my friend threw her undies at him on stage.”

She also wanted a party. “When I die it’s going to be Christmas. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is. I am throwing a party for all my family and friends to be together and to say goodbye. My favourite time of the year is Christmas, so that’s what the party will be.”

A party to mark the death of a 25-year-old. Followed by her funeral, which will be conducted by the same celebrant she had at her wedding just a few short years ago. Months ago, she'd already begun to plan it.

We won't forget Emma Betts.

Thank you for sharing your story.

You can donate to help support Emma's funeral plans and her family here

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