‘My sister didn’t want to die’: Mum’s final moments
NATALIE Leven didn't want to leave her miracle boys without their mum.
She fought. For more than seven years, the Sunshine Coast woman endured the pain only those who have experienced cancer can know.
It was all for her twin sons, James and Joel.
But now, after years of suffering, Natalie's fight has come to an end.
"My sister didn't want to die," Kellie Steele said.
"Chemotherapy and radiation … is just excruciating.
"But she never complained, she just managed it because she wanted to stay alive.
'She wanted to be a mother."
Kellie said her sister's four year olds were the babies she never thought she'd have.
"Before she was diagnosed, she didn't think she'd be able to conceive children," she said.
"I underwent IVF for my sister … it was going to be my sister's and her husband's chance at having kids."
It was then that a miracle occurred.
"Not long after we did all of that, she fell pregnant naturally with twins which was just fantastic," she said.
"She absolutely adored and loved what she called her miracle babies."
Natalie's breast cancer came back soon after James and Joel's birth.
She prayed for another miracle that never came.
"It (the cancer) basically remained with her until she passed," Kellie said.
"She prayed every day, she went to church at least once a week. She did everything she could.
"Her mechanism with being able to just cope with every single thing that was thrown at her was phenomenal."
Last Sunday, Natalie's friends and family said their final goodbyes in hospital.
Kellie said the ambulance trip was one her sister never wanted to make.
Yet Natalie's last moments were lived in a celebration of the love she gave endlessly to those who meant the most.
"We decided to have Christmas and birthday celebrations early, and rather than calling it that, we just said it was a celebration of everything," she said.
"On Sunday, we rounded up all the family and friends, got the Christmas tree and all the presents in, and had those moments in her presence.
"It was a chance for everybody to get together and celebrate those Christmases and birthdays that my sister was never going to be able to celebrate.
"Unfortunately by that stage, she was medicated and I can only hope she could hear all of us around her."
After becoming Natalie's carer, Kellie said their bond only grew stronger as sisters.
A connection so strong, their link became truly clear in Natalie's final moments.
"After we celebrated, I managed to get everyone out of the room and it was only myself and Natalie's dear, dear friend Katrina," she said.
"By this stage, I hadn't slept for days.
"I fell asleep and within two minutes, Katrina woke me and told me my sister had passed.
"It was like she waited for me to go to sleep so she could pass away."
Although Natalie physically is no longer here, Kellie said her light would live on in her boys forever.
"Her legacy to her children is that she just loved and adored them and did everything for them," she said.
"She wrote a journal and birthday cards for them … our family will ensure that my sister's memory will be carried forth so the boys know how dedicated and loving she was."
Above all, Kellie said her sister's life is one that will never be forgotten.
"She was stoic. There wasn't a selfish bone in her body. She brought everybody together," she said.
"She was fantastic. I adore her, I love her and I miss her greatly."