Clare Daly was the perfect picture of a bride on her wedding day. In photos of her July 2014 nuptials, her fair skin shines in contrast with her pristine, strapless dress as she stands next to her new husband, Sam.
However, Clare didn’t make it to her second anniversary. She died at the age of 29 in December 2015 of skin cancer. Initially, Clare believed her sore shoulder was due to a pulled muscle, but after physiotherapy failed to relieve her symptoms, doctors found she had a very aggressive form of melanoma related to a mole she’d had removed a few years earlier, the Liverpool Echo reported. She only survived two months after her initial diagnosis.
“We thought dual therapy was the best chance of prolonging Clare’s life, of keeping the cancer at bay for as long as possible in the hope of them finding another new treatment. It isn’t funded by the NHS (UK’s National Health Service) so we started to fund raise, but it was just too late,” explained her brother, Michael McNally.
Clare’s diagnosis stunned those close to her. “Clare wasn’t a sun-worshipper at all, she never used sun beds, she naturally had pale porcelain skin,” said her friend, Stefanie McCartney-Washington. “She was always very aware of being exposed to the sun, especially after she’d had the scare, even though doctors said it would be very rare for it to come back.”
Clare remained positive even when she was diagnosed with cancer, aided by her loved ones who tried to help pay for her privatized treatment. “We had to think fast about how we were going to give her what she deserved. Clare was a very private, proud person and we’d have done anything, I took a second part-time job at West Tower so I could pay towards it. But then she died,” Stefanie explained.
More than 800 people came to Daly’s funeral, which was held at St. George’s Church in Maghull, England. “The amount of love we saw for her was incredible, we couldn’t get everyone in the church,” Stefanie recalled. “We looked round and thought, we could do something positive with this, let’s keep Clare’s name alive because she was just amazing.”
Although her loved ones are still impacted by her absence, they’ve banded together to form the Clare Daly foundation. According to its website, the foundation aims to raise awareness for melanoma, support its victims and their families, help those with melanoma access treatments not available through the NHS, and “support research into treatments to improve quality of life, prolong life and hopefully, one day, find a cure for melanoma.”
Stefanie is still struggling with the loss of her childhood friend. “She died in the early hours of Monday so Mondays are always the worst,” she said. “But it always seems to be sunny so, even though I know it sounds stupid, I think that’s Clare.”