A GREAT Harwood woman has died of CJD, the human form of "mad cow disease".
Carolyn Hatton, 56, of Harwood Lane, started to experience numbness in her arms and legs after returning from a walking trip in the Pyrenees in October with her husband Paul.
She died just three months later, on 29 January, at the East Lancashire Hospice with her husband by her side, holding her hand.
CJD, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, affects the proteins in the central nervous system and is a very rare and incurable degenerative brain disease which always proves fatal. The chances of contracting it are around one in a million.
Distraught father-of-one Paul said: "She had tests but it took a while to diagnose because it is so rare. At first we thought she had MS but the tests kept coming back negative.
"She struggled to get her words out and then she couldn’t communicate. She became unable to swallow and that’s what killed her.
"There is no known cause for the disease. It is a bit like breast cancer – no one knows who it is going to affect."
There are four strains of the disease which affects around 90 people a year in the UK.
One is variant CJD, caused by eating infected meat, and another is sporadic – the most common strain – which can affect anyone with no known trigger. This is the type that Carolyn was diagnosed with.
Paul added: "It’s devastating because there’s no cure or way back once you have got it. There was nothing anybody could do.
"It was very traumatic for her and for me. She managed to have Christ-mas Day at home but after that it all went downhill. She was very brave throughout the short journey with the illness."
Carolyn, who was a dyslexia support tutor at Accrington and Rossen-dale College, loved travelling to France where the couple had many friends. She was also studying French to a high level.
The animal lover also enjoyed the outdoors and she and her husband would spend hours walking and cycling. Carolyn also enjoyed a weekly yoga session at Great Harwood Community Centre.
A tearful Paul added: "Her friends would describe her as a very special, unique person with a dry sense of humour, very genuine, warm and funny.
"To me she was all those things and a fabulous mother to Daniel, a wonderful friend and companion to me. She gave more than she took with people. She was unique and people loved her. And now she’s gone.
"We did everything together. We even did the illness together."
As well as her husband, she leaves son Daniel, 24, brothers David and Geoffrey and their wives Tracey and Shona, nieces Jade, Molly, Jessica, Siobhain and Amanda and nephews Jamie, Gavin and Mark.
The family would like to thank the nurses and doctors on Ward 17 at the Royal Preston Hospital and the East Lancashire Hospice where Carolyn spent her last few weeks.