The heartache continues for unlucky-in-love Susie Maroney, who has sadly split from her quadriplegic husband as she supports her dying mother.
Family friends reveal to New Idea that Pauline Maroney – who has been the former marathon swimmer’s rock through so many ups and downs – is battling terminal cancer of the oesophagus and has only months to live.
‘It’s an absolute tragedy for Susie, whose mother has always been her best friend,’ an insider tells New Idea.
‘She has really struggled to cope with caring for Pauline while maintaining a long- distance marriage and raising her three children, Capri, Paris and River.
‘She’s heartbroken, there is no other word for it. Nobody could have seen any of this coming. Susie’s mother had only just retired from 55 years of nursing when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, which was devastating for everyone concerned.’
It’s only six months since Susie eloped to marry quadriplegic Perry Cross on her 42nd birthday – a date chosen in tribute to her late twin Sean, who died in a balcony fall 15 years ago.
‘November 15 was such a happy day for me while Sean was still alive,’ confided the radiant bride, who had beaten melanoma earlier last year. ‘So we thought it would be nice to remember him at an extra-special time like this.’
Back then, twice-divorced Susie was certain this marriage would be third time lucky.
Others might have hesitated to wed former rugby player Perry, 42, who is unable to move from the neck down, or breathe without a mechanical ventilator attached to his electric wheelchair.
But gutsy Susie, who famously broke the speed record across the English Channel in 1990 and completed a 38-hour swim from Mexico to Cuba in 1998, had no such qualms.
The newlyweds, who hoped to have an IVF baby together, settled down to an apparently happy, if unconventional, long-distance marriage.
Susie lived in Sydney’s beachside Cronulla while her spouse stayed on the Gold Coast, where his Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation is based.
Nonetheless, they spent a lot of time together, and Susie’s Instagram account was full of fun family snaps showing her children Paris, eight, Capri, six, and River, five, out and about with Perry.
But everything changed in January when former nurse Pauline, 72, was diagnosed with terminal cancer of the oesophagus.
Tragically, she’d dismissed the early warning signs – lethargy, weight loss, breathlessness and night sweats – until it was too late, despite working on an oncology ward for 10 years.
For the full story, see this week’s New Idea – Out now.
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