Sammy Fradgley-Carter has shared loving memories of her husband Mark and son Jacob, after they passed away in March and April respectively.
Mark suffered a serious head injury following a collision on the A38 Alfreton Road at Sutton on Tuesday, March 29, and later died in hospital.
And just under four weeks later, Jacob, who was battling a rare form of cancer, succumbed to the disease, aged just 19.
“They were both just amazing,” Sammy said.
The devoted wife recalled the morning she found out about Mark’s accident, which happened just days after their first wedding anniversary.
“Mark would usually message me to let me know he’d got to work safely, but he never did that day,” she said.
“I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw something about an accident on the A38 but I didn’t really think anything of it. I thought maybe he could be stuck in traffic because of it.
“I still hadn’t heard anything when his boss called me and told me he never showed up for work.
“We found out from the hospital that it was an accident involving a motorbike, and a man about Mark’s age, and I just knew at that point it must be him.
“I’ve never seen Jacob move so fast – he tried to calm me and told me to sit down. I was hysterical.”
A police officer rushed Sammy to Queen’s Medical Centre, where she hurried to Mark’s bedside.
"I never left him, I was there for three days straight,” she said.
“The nurses eventually told me they had tried everything to save him but there was nothing else they could do.”
Friends and family were able to visit Mark in the hospital before the decision was made to turn off his life-support machine.
“I’m glad everyone was able to come and say goodbye,” she added.
“The hardest thing I’ve ever done was walking out of the hospital without him. But I knew I had to carry on because of Jacob.”
Sammy married Mark back in March 2021 after years of raising their children, Jacob and Leah, together. She is now expecting another baby girl in July, who will be named Elsie.
She said: “Having Elsie is something that’s really keeping me going. She’s a part of Mark.
“He was a proper family man – very loyal, loving and hardworking. He loved holidays in Scarborough and Dorset in the camper.
“Work and home life – that’s what he did and that’s what he loved. He was very happy with that.
"Mark’s also always had motorbikes and he taught Jacob how to ride. They really shared a love of bikes.”
Jacob was diagnosed with metastatic ewing sarcoma – which affected his bones and tissue around them – when he was just 15, in May 2018.
He had made a recovery from the illness, but sadly his remission lasted only nine months when in November 2019 he received the heartbreaking news the cancer had returned.
The Army-loving teenager sadly passed away on April 27.
His mum said: “Jacob was unbelievable. Even from being little, he was always a good kid. Never gave me any grief at all.
“The determination that he’d got and the care that he had for me and his sister Leah, especially towards the end, was amazing.”
Sammy praised her son’s attitude towards his illness, even in his final days.
She said: “He had his down days, of course, but he always managed to be positive about everything.
“When he knew he was going to pass, he did loads of little things for us to leave behind.
“He made videos, wrote some letters and even made some teddy bears with his heartbeat in.”
The courageous, former Quarrydale School pupil endured endless hospital visits and underwent more than 19 intense chemotherapy rounds and about 60 sessions of radiotherapy during his cancer battle.
His mum said: “When he was first diagnosed we made a wish list and we did everything on it, apart from going to Normandy.
“He flew in a Spitfire, he drove a tank. Anything he wanted to do, we tried to make it happen.
“We went to the Imperial War Museum, HMS Belfast, he even saw his favourite tank –the Tiger I. There’s only one of them in England.
“He wanted to drive a tank in the army, that was always his dream.”
Jacob passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by those who loved him most.
Sammy said: “He tried so hard to carry on because he really wanted to meet Elsie.
“But every time we went to the hospital there was always something new. The cancer just kept growing – it was everywhere.
“They eventually told him he was too poorly for any more treatment and that it was just a matter of time.
“He passed away pain-free in his sleep at home, where he wanted to be. That’s a comforting thing. And I knew in my own heart that I’d done everything that I could.”
Sammy said she is very much comforted by the thought of Jacob and Mark being together again.
She said: “Me and Mark had spoken about Jacob’s illness when we were going through it together, and the comfort that I got was that mum and dad would be up there waiting for him. When Mark went like he did, that was the only comfort – that he was going to go up to his dad.
“My mum also passed away suddenly three years ago.
"Now they are all together.”
Despite utter heartbreak and unimaginable grief, Sammy knows she must carry on for her family.
“I’ve got no choice but to stay strong,” she said.
“Leah’s been through so much and I can’t let her down. No matter what I’m going through she’s my priority, and Elsie – I’ve got to keep going for them both.
“I feel at peace because both funerals went so well and they had everything they would have wanted.
“Jacob and Mark wouldn’t want me sat being sad. They’d want me to live and carry on doing things as a family.
“There’s nothing I can do to change what’s happened, but I can change the future for us and make it a positive one.”