A new blow has hit a Steyning family whose lives have already been rocked twice by tragedy.
Hayley Oakley, 35, was diagnosed with cancer within weeks of the tragic death of her baby girl.
She and husband Ben described the devastating loss of their daughter Erica Rae at 36 weeks gestation as “the saddest moment of our life together.”
Hayley underwent gruelling chemotherapy treatment following her cancer diagnois in November 2017 and friends set up a fundraising appeal to help Hayley - who has lived in Australia with Ben for the past four years - to seek fertility treatment so that the couple could realise their dream of having a family.
But now the couple have been dealt another devastating blow. Hayley was told earlier this year that she had cervical cancer and in May had to undergo a hysterectomy.
Vicky Holliday, who has been friends with Hayley since their time at Steyning Primary School - said: “This was devastating news meaning they will no longer be able to carry their own baby.
“Their only option to have their own children in Australia is through altruistic gestational surrogacy.
“This is obviously a huge further blow for Hayley and Ben, therefore we’re doing what we can by starting a go fund me page to see if we can help support them fund a surrogate.
She added: “Not only are they dealing with unimaginable loss, they are also under huge financial pressure again; all while grieving the loss of their daughter.”
And, she paid tribute to the couple’s “incredible courage, love and solidarity throughout their devastating experience. Their positivity and strength has been breathtaking.
“Helplessly watching our lovely friends go through this has been horrendous.”
Hayley, who has written a blog on her and Ben’s ordeal, said: “It is unbelievable that one of these things can happen to a family, let alone all three, and within such a short space of time.
“Somehow we are still able to smile and continue with our lives, but the grief and sadness from our loss and struggle will always remain and creeps in everyday,”
Money raised from the GoFundMe appeal will go towards costs of fertility treatment, legal advice, counselling and pregnancy and birth costs.