An oncology nurse who inspired thousands of people with her bravery and determination has lost her battle with cancer.

Laura and Paul on their wedding day.Laura and Paul on their wedding day.

Laura Harris, 43, devoted her life to caring for cancer patients, but began her own fight with the disease when she was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2017.

Her friends set up a fundraising page for life-extending treatments not available on the NHS, and Laura’s story touched the hearts of people worldwide.

Her appeal soon went viral, raising nearly £100,000, but despite her cancer going into remission, Laura’s health began to decline and she died this morning (Wednesday).

‘My soulmate’

Laura, originally from Baltimore in the US, leaves behind her husband Paul, her children Noah and Molly and her stepson, as well as her beloved dogs.

Last night Paul, who was by her side, posted a touching tribute on her Facebook profile for all to see.

He said: “I have never been one to post messages to you on Facebook, I never felt the need, because I had the honour of your company and time my love.

Laura Harris and her son Noah.Laura Harris and her son Noah.

“Tonight however I want you, and the countless people that you have made a mark on, in your beautiful way in this world to know that I am here, I’ll be whispering in your ear and holding your hand until you are ready to take to the wind my Angel.

“Always yours, my wife, my soulmate, my love, my everything. P. Xxx

Paul and Laura wed last year in a beautiful service at their home in Barnstaple, organised for them by family and friends.

Laura walked down the aisle to November Rain by Guns N’ Roses, and they had a marquee in their back garden for the ceremony.

For their honeymoon the couple also went to London to see Guns N’ Roses play live.

Team Lanky Yankee

Despite her own battle, Laura never failed to keep a brave face, giving an often comical commentary of her treatment to her hundreds of followers on Facebook.

Laura and her daughter MollyLaura and her daughter Molly

Her light-hearted honesty about her own cancer journey inspired the hundreds of people who followed her.

She was full of praise for the staff at the Seamoor Unit, where she worked as a nurse and received her own treatment, as well as at North Devon Hospice.

Laura also continually praised her family for being by her side, and always her followers, who she nicknamed ‘Team Lanky Yankee’.

An inspiration

Laura was also keen to spread awareness of bowel cancer, particularly in young people, and her legacy will live on through this.

Speaking during Bowel Cancer Awareness Week in April, Laura told the Gazette: “As a nurse I have seen a big variation in the age of bowel cancer patients, from much younger than me to much older.

“The good thing is people in the more advanced stages are living longer nowadays.

Laura with her friends on her wedding dayLaura with her friends on her wedding day

“People lead busy lives and it’s easy to put things off or not notice how long these symptoms have been going on for.

“But if we can break the taboo of talking about it, we can catch it earlier.”

Always fighting

Laura also was a staunch support of the Over and Above £1.5million appeal to build a new cancer and wellbeing centre at North Devon District Hospital.

After her fundraising appeal, Laura said she was ‘blown away’ by the support and would never be able to find the words to thank everyone who donated.

It was her intention that any leftover funds would be donated to cancer charities and other people crowd funding for her own treatment.

Details of Laura’s funerals are yet to be announced, but friends have been turning their Facebook profile pictures to an American flag today in tribute.

Your tributes

Hundreds of people have been taking to social media to pay tribute to Laura.

Charlotte Overney, lead cancer nurse in North Devon, said: “I have worked with Laura for some years from her time within Oncology research to her time in the Seamoor unit.

“She has always been a very passionate nurse which oozed out of her in everything she did.

“She was a very valued member of the team and will be sadly missed. My thoughts are with her family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

Over and Above also paid tribute to Laura on Facebook.

A statement said: “Laura has been an inspiration to many and we cannot thank her enough for all her support for the charity, she recently became a charity ambassador and has helped us raise incredible amounts and awareness for our Cancer and Wellbeing Centre Appeal.

“We will be forever grateful to have known her and she will be missed by many.”

If you’d like to pay tribute to Laura, email newsdesk@northdevongazette.co.uk