A young woman who avoided the sun has died after contracting a rare form of skin cancer.
Cerys Harding, 21, knew nothing about her devastating illness until it had spread across her body into her brain, chest and spine and it was too late for doctors to act.
Her family have struggled to come to terms with the tragedy as Cerys did not like sunbeds or even sunbathing.
Mum Beverley, 50, said: “She was a girl who never ever sat in the sun, she hated the sun.
“She had dark hair and dark eyes and it didn’t make sense, none of it did.
“She didn’t use sunbeds or anything like that.
“She was the only person on the beach that had a towel on her as well as under her.”
University student Cerys had only recently celebrated her birthday in November when doctors discovered the cancer.
Beverley said her daughter was at the family home in Severn Grove, Canton, Cardiff, when the initial signs of what was to come appeared.
“We came home from town because she rang us saying she’d had this funny turn and she didn’t know what had happened.
“She remembered getting off the floor and then waking up again 45 minutes later in bed and she’d been sick,” Beverley said.
“I just rang NHS Direct because she didn’t seem really ill and we made an appointment for later that day.
“At the doctor’s we were told she needed a brain scan but we still weren’t really worried. We then went up to Llandough Hospital to have the scan and it all snowballed from there.”
The family described Cerys as an “angel” and “a parent’s dream” and said her first response was concern for them.
Dad David, 52, said: “She was worried about leaving us. That’s the first thing she said. We were all blown to bits but that was just how she was, always thinking of other people.
“All she said was that it wasn’t meant to be.”
Beverley added: “The only person she ever fell out with in her life was a boyfriend at uni. And after the diagnosis she said the one thing she had to do was to go and make her peace with him, which she did.
“That was the kind of girl she was, she didn’t like upsetting anyone.
“When she was younger if I ever shouted at Lloyd it would be Cerys who would be the one crying, she cared so much about other people.”
Both David and Beverley took time off work to care for Cerys and took her on one last holiday to Paris following the news – while extended family also flew over from Australia for one final Christmas together.
And while the occasion was extremely difficult for the family, Cerys made sure they all enjoyed it.
“It was as normal as it could be,” her brother Lloyd, 24, said.
“She told us ‘I don’t want everyone crying all over me, I just want to carry on as normal’, so that’s what we did.”
The family said Cerys, a former pupil of Severn Road Primary School and Cantonian High School, had aspirations to be a primary school teacher.
They added she had always been academic and said even though she did not finish the full three years of her history degree, Swansea University awarded it to her on the merit of the work she had already done.
“At that age you’re supposed to be indestructible,” Beverly added.
“Parents worry about their children when they’re babies but when they get to a certain age, never in a million years did we think anything like this would ever happen to Cerys as she still had so much to give.
“She was as honest as the day was long, she never did anything wrong. She said remember the good times, but the thing is we never had any bad times.”