A heartbroken mother lost her daughter and husband in just 24 hours – leaving her to help care for her newborn grandson.
Lisa Pottle, 46, was devastated when her daughter Emma passed away last week from a suspected seizure at just 26 years old.
The tragically Lisa’s husband Michael, 53, lost his battle with cancer just a day later.
Emma, who died last Wednesday (July 29) had only recently become a mum to little Michael – or MJ – who was born on May 9.
And Lisa, from Norwich, Norfolk, said her daughter was “delighted” to fall pregnant.
Emma had thought could not happen after being treated for thyroid cancer as a teenager.
Mum-of-three Lisa said: “I’ve never seen anyone so happy about finding out they’re pregnant.
“She couldn’t wait to tell the world that she had got everything she ever wanted.”
But little MJ has now been left without a mother at the age of just 12 weeks old – and Lisa and the family have been left to help care for the tot while they grieve.
Lisa, who has four other grandchildren, said: “It’s just such a shock, for everything to happen the way it has in this past week.
“I feel so sorry I couldn’t save either of them. I love my family so much, and it felt like it was my job to try and look after them, and to make them better.”
She added: “MJ is doing absolutely fine. He’s being very well looked after by another family member.
“I speak to them every day and get updates and photos, and I hear him gargling down the phone.
“He’s still obviously too young to understand – but sometimes when he looks around at all the faces of the family around him, it’s like he knows his mummy is missing.
“Babies know who their mummy is – and he hasn’t seen his in over a week now.”
Lisa told how Emma, who worked at the Vauxhall Centre in Norwich supporting people with disabilities, had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2012, at the age of just 18.
She said: “Emma had two operations to remover her thyroids, and they told us that the thyroids control calcium levels, and if calcium levels got too low she could have a seizure.
“And a few weeks after her surgery, as she was still getting used to her medication, she did have a seizure.
“So we went back to the hospital where they did some tests, and they discovered she had a blockage in her brain, which had been there since birth.
“So then she had to have another operation to put a thing called a reservoir into her head, to clear the blockage.”
Lisa said that the reservoir seemed to be working fine – and that last year, Emma was overjoyed to find out she had defied all the odds and fallen pregnant.
She said: “She had had it stuck in her head that it would never happen for her.
“But everything with the pregnancy seemed to go fine. She was blessed enough to never even suffer morning sickness.
“They were a bit worried about her labour, because of her medical history. They wouldn’t let her push for more than 20 minutes, and in the end she delivered via C-section.”
Lisa added: “Everyone who saw her with that baby knew she would literally do anything for him.
“People were always commenting on how well-dressed he was, how happy and clean he was.”
Tragically, Emma’s health took a turn on July 24 – when Lisa received a call late in the evening from Emma’s friend.
Lisa said: “She told me Emma wasn’t very well, and that there was a paramedic there wanting to talk to me about her medical history.
“In the background I could hear Emma screaming and shouting. It sounded like she was in so much pain. That was the last time I physically heard my daughter.”
Lisa rushed to Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital at around midnight that night, after doctors told her that Emma had deteriorated and was on a ventilator.
Unbeknownst to Lisa, her daughter had fallen into a coma.
Emma was transferred to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, Cambs., the following day (July 26) – where she passed away a few days later, on July 29.
Meanwhile, Lisa’s husband Michael was also quickly deteriorating at Oakford House Care Home in Norwich – where he had been battling lung cancer for a year.
In his last few weeks, the cancer had spread to his spine and his brain, and he had developed “several brain tumours”, said Lisa.
She said: “Michael died 25 hours and 46 minutes after Emma.
“I was with him about three hours before he passed away.
“I didn’t tell him about Emma – I didn’t want that to be his last memory, and for him to die with a broken heart.”
Lisa and Michael had been together for 25 years, and married for 23.
She said: “He wasn’t Emma’s biological dad, but he helped me raise her from when she was about two years old, and she classed him as dad.
“He got to meet little MJ once, through the window of the nursing home – and he fell in love with him as soon as he saw him.”
Lisa said she has been left reeling by her double loss – and has already been contacted by many of Emma’s friends, saying how much they will miss her.
She said: “She was a great girl, she was loved by everyone she came into contact with.
“She would do anything for anybody. I never heard anyone say a bad word about my daughter.
“She worked supporting disabled people at the Vauxhall Centre in Norwich and she made an awful lot of friends there.
“She also loved her job as a passenger assistant on a minibus which drove special needs children to and from school.
“She was so loved, and will be so missed by everyone.”
A family friend has now set up a GoFundMe page to help Lisa with funeral costs for Emma and Michael – and has raised more than £1,500 in just over a week.
To donate, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/987nb-family.