A MOTHER-OF-FOUR has been left homeless days after doctors broke the news that she may only have eight weeks to live.
Cancer-stricken Dawn Milburn, 27, was hoping to spend her final days surrounded by her children and partner at home – before a fire left it uninhabitable.
She is now sleeping on a camp bed at her mother’s house, where she is crammed in with sons Josh, seven, Jack, four, Ben, three, and eightmonth- old daughter Casey- Ann.
There is so little space that her partner, James Maddison, 20, has been forced to find lodgings elsewhere.
“It has been one thing after the other,” said Miss Milburn.
“It just doesn’t feel real. I have lost everything.
“Normally, people in this situation would be able to rebuild the things. I don’t have the time or strength to do it anymore.”
Miss Milburn, who had one of her legs amputated in an attempt to beat the cancer, believed she had at least 18 months before she would die.
However, last Tuesday she was told her tumour had grown and she may only have eight to ten weeks left.
Two days later, fire broke out in the kitchen of her house in Annand Road, Gilesgate, Durham City, when she was alone at home. She was on the phone when a steriliser for the baby’s bottles caught fire.
Her attempts to tackle the fire were hampered by her crutches. She said: “I tried putting the flames out, but it didn’t work and I had to get out of the house.”
The blaze was extinguished by firefighters, but the kitchen was extensively damaged, and the cooker, fridge and other appliances were destroyed.
The rest of the house is heavily smoke-damaged, ruining carpets, curtains, clothing and the family’s belongings.
“I wanted everything to be as perfect as possible under the circumstances.
“Palliative care staff were coming to the house to help make it as comfortable as possible.
How can they do that now?
“All I want is a house and to be near my family for the last weeks I have.”
Mr Maddison said: “The council has said it would take three weeks for new kitchen equipment to arrive – and the house still has to be repaired.
“We can’t move back until then, by which time Dawn will be bed-bound.”
Miss Milburn was diagnosed with bone cancer while pregnant with her third child, Ben – the couple’s first together.
He was induced three weeks early so surgeons could remove a tumour on her right knee.
“I started with chemotherapy and was told I had a good chance of beating it,” she said.
But last year, after falling pregnant again, Miss Milburn noticed a lump in her right leg.
“The doctors said they wanted me to deliver at 22 weeks or it could have been fatal for me.
“When they said the baby would have more chance being delivered at 28 weeks, I decided to hang on.”
After five days, Casey-Ann was born on May 5 by Caesarean section and, shortly afterwards, Miss Milburn had her right leg amputated and began further chemotherapy.
Sadly, the cancer had spread to her lungs and was terminal.
“I believed I had at least a year and a half to go. But when I went to the doctor on Tuesday, I was told the tumour was growing and they gave me eight to ten weeks.
“I had been planning to take the children to Butlins. But then the fire broke out.
“It is just not possible to stay here with my mother – I need the space. The council has offered me a B&B, but I can’t be that far away in case the worst happens.”
She added: “I’m not going to give up that easily. I want to make it until at least my son’s birthday. Jack is five on March 4 and my 28th is four days later.”
Her friend, Vickie Bell, 35, said: “Her first concern has always been for her family.
“She wanted to cram everything she could into the last few months of her life and wanted to take the kids everywhere.
And now this.”
Anyone able to help Miss Milburn can call The Northern Echo’s Durham office on 0191-384-4600.