December 5 2013 Latest news:
Saturday, September 21, 2013
For 23 years she coped with the knowledge that her life was going to be cut short.
If I'd never had CF, I'd be a little taller, my lungs a little fuller and my skin less salty.
If I never had CF I'd take my sweet time, take it all for granted, be terrified of doctors and hate the smell of hospital...
If I never had CF I'd have stories for grandkids and beautiful wrinkles around my eyes
The beach would be for tanning and the gym would be for weight-loss
I'd be a little more selfish, have less ambition, less drive, less pride.
If I never had CF I wouldn't laugh as much cause it takes a chill to feel the warmth of the sun.
I'd probably slack off knowing I got my whole long life to do great things.
I'd hug you less know I got my whole long life to hold on to one.
If I never had CF I wouldn't be me!
But I promise that those hard learned lessons were worth it and I'm ready to reminisce, look up at the sun, toes in the sand and remember when the beach was for breathing.
But in just over two decades she achieved more than most do in many more years, and lived life to its full potential.
Sadly, after making a huge impression on her family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, Sonia Alexander died on August 23.
And now her mum, Kerry, has paid tribute to her "brave and determined" daughter, saying: "We were told she wouldn't reach adult life. She did everything in life and she still wanted to do more."
Sonia was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was eight weeks old following a blood test.
She left school at 16 and worked for May Gurney before joining Lotus Cars at Hethel as a prototype administrator, where she met her boyfriend, Jamie Cave.
In October last year, the couple spent a month travelling around New Zealand in a campervan. Determined to not let her condition stand in the way of her dreams, Sonia did a bungee jump on Auckland bridge with less than 20pc lung capacity.
"She called us afterwards and told us what she had done. Sonia didn't let her illness faze her. She just got on with life," Mrs Alexander said.
By November 2012, Sonia had saved enough money to buy a house and she moved to Attleborough with her Jack Russell chihuahua cross, Bailey, who she named after her favourite drink.
Sonia, who attended Browick Road, Robert Kett Junior and Wymondham High School, was heavily involved with the Young Farmers organisation and took part in their annual performances.
"Even when she was ill, she would put her heels on and go to their parties. In July they held a 007 event and there was no stopping her. We thought she would stay for a few hours but she was dancing around her oxygen bottle until midnight," Mrs Alexander said.
The event helped to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, which is Wymondham Young Farmers' chosen charity of the year.
Sonia's lungs started to deteriorate in January and in May, doctors told her she had weeks to live.
She moved back in with her mum and dad, Mick, and spent her finals months with them and Jamie. They went to the beach and attended the Household Cavalry day at West Tofts, the Royal Norfolk Show and the Wayland Show.
She wrote letter to her parents and to Jamie and gave instructions for her funeral.
Mrs Alexander said: "She wanted a burial but she didn't mind where she was buried and she didn't want anyone to wear black at her funeral.
"She didn't want us to be sad.
"She had a world full of friends and we had to hold her funeral at Wymondham Abbey because it was the only place where everyone would fit.
"In the end, 435 people came. It was heaving."
Also inside the envelope was a poignant poem which Sonia wrote about her life with the condition, which was read at the funeral.
As her coffin was carried into the Abbey, Right Here Waiting by Richard Marx was playing.
"As soon the coffin was put down, the CD jammed. We all said it was Sonia having the last laugh on us," Mrs Alexander said.
And in true Sonia style, her friends and family celebrated her life with a disco and a bar in Carleton Rode social club hall, as per her wishes. And even Bailey the dog attended.
Sonia's parents expressed their thanks to the CF team at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and the staff on the Hethel ward.
Mrs Alexander added: "Sonia was extremely brave. She was in pain but she never let anything get her down."