Mum who thought she had asthma dies at 33 after suffering two devastating losses

By Staff 7 Min Read

Brave mum Katie Dowling, 33, suffered two family tragedies in the months before she died from cancer aged just 33. She had been told by a doctor she only had asthma

A mum who was told she only had asthma has died from cancer at the age of 33.

Katie Dowling battled through chemotherapy and suffered the tragedy of losing both her parents in the months before she died – but kept high spirits for those she loved around her. The mum, from Norris Green in Liverpool, leaves behind her partner Craig Nicol, 36, and two children.

She was described as a “good hearted” person who “would do anything for anyone”. Craig is now determined to create awareness after Katie initially believed she was suffering with asthma, rather than cancer.

He told the Echo how her stubborn personality gave him the chance to spend a few more months with her. The retail assistant at The Range was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2019, and underwent a mastectomy. She had to battle through chemotherapy on her own during lockdown in 2020, and ‘rang the bell’ the following year when she was given the all-clear from breast cancer.

Sadly, her dad died on Christmas Eve the same year. The following January, Katie went back to see her doctors after suffering with shortness of breath and fatigue – and was told she had asthma.

In October 2022, Katie received the devastating news that she had cancer again. This time, it was terminal in her lung, liver and spine, and she immediately started chemotherapy. She was even more shocked to learn that fatigue and shortness of breath had been symptoms of the deadly disease all along.

Another tragedy struck when she went round to her mum’s to take her shopping in June 2023, and tragically found her dead on the kitchen floor. Craig told the ECHO: “From then, in the next six to eight months she just went downhill quite quickly. They were forced to change her chemo in December because her liver function had been four times higher than it should be. We have had a really good palliative nurse, she has been amazing. She came out on the Wednesday and said she thinks Katie needs to go into the hospice – she had not been well enough to have chemo at this time.”

Katie sadly died aged 33 on Monday, April 8. Craig said she “fought it until the end” and that he was grateful he “got to have a couple of more months with her”, having only spent 18 months together as a couple.

Craig has now set out on a mission to create awareness for breast cancer in her honour, and said: “When she got the all clear and her dad passed away on Christmas Eve, she went to doctors again at the end of January and was told she had asthma.

“Up until she was diagnosed with cancer, she believed she had asthma because she had shortness of breath and was fatigued. I want to spread awareness of these symptoms and to tell people if you do have them to get checked, because it could be something worse. I just want to create awareness – if you are short of breath or have headaches, get checked. Katie’s cancer was also genetic and there is genetic testing you can get. Don’t take any chances.”

Craig also wanted to share a huge thank you to the Woodlands Hospice, who provided her with district nurses “every day for six weeks” and were “amazing” in theri care. She has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money towards covering the costs of care and funding a headstone so that her children have a place to remember their mum.

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