A mum devastated after her husband's 'stomach bug' turned out to be terminal cancer said she knows 'he would have wanted her to be happy'.

Sharon Byrne, originally from St Helens, said her husband Alex had been feeling unwell for a while but put it down to a stomach bug.

However after the symptoms persisted the couple, who were married for 17 years, went to the hospital to be given some devastating news.

Doctors told Alex, who was a stay-at-home-dad to the couple's daughter Orla, he had lung cancer which had spread to his lymph nodes and bones.

And sadly in September 2019, Alex died suddenly at the age of 58.

Sharon, 43, told the ECHO: "Alex was a stay at home dad, he looked after our daughter while I went to work.

"He’d been a builder. He was 58 when he passed away and he was a little bit older than me.

"He just started to get poorly and we thought it was just a stomach bug. He was getting pains and we also thought it was his arthritis.

"It was horrendous - I can’t really describe it."

Sharon said after the death of Alex she soon returned to work but said she struggled to stay motivated due to the circumstances.

Juggling a demanding job travelling to Liverpool City Centre every day and looking after their five-year-old, Sharon said home life started to "become a challenge."

So when she lost her job Sharon decided to take a break to Australia with Orla to stay with friends, before returning home to find something to "bring back her confidence."

Sharon Byrne of Serenity Living, Prescot

Sharon who had worked in the finance and IT industry for over 20 years, said: "After losing Alex, I struggled to find something that I could concentrate on and feel motivated again, so I enrolled on a welding course at St Helen's college.

"I haven’t welded since passing the course but it did bring back my confidence."

"We had a property in Scotland and I’m really handy. I love home decor and interior and we used to go around looking at all the shops and I used to think I’d love to have a shop and do that."

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Wanting to find something new to focus on, Sharon took an idea to the Women's Organisation for business advice, where she gained support in branding, marketing and what steps to take to set up her own business.

Sharon's passion for tranquillity, home comforts, up-cycling and a power tool led her to starting her own business - something she'd never thought about doing - which began as a pop up shop at Whiston and St Helen's Hospital.

But as interest in Serenity Living grew, customers started to ask about whether Sharon had a shop that they could visit and browse.

If you have been affected by any of the details mentioned in this story there are people who can help you.

Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them.

The way grief affects you depends on lots of things, including what kind of loss you have suffered, your upbringing, your beliefs or religion, your age, your relationships, and your physical and mental health.

Grieving is a totally normal process but there are way to get help if you need support.

Your GP is a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor, or prescribe medication if needed.

Or you can contact support organisations directly, such as Cruse Bereavement Care (0808 808 1677) Samaritans (116 123) or Love Jasmine.

Serenity Living found its home in Prescot Shopping Centre at the beginning of March this year and Sharon set herself deadlines to get the shop ready, visiting every day after the school run for two weeks, painting and laying the flooring single-handedly.

And despite the pandemic having an impact on businesses in the town and across the country, Sharon said she used the time to build up her upcycling furniture department.

Sharon Byrne took a welding course which led her to start her own business

The mum said: "I’d never really thought about doing it. I love people, but when I look back I don’t think I was really suited to an office life.

"Some days were tougher than others. Working on your own doubts set in, but the encouragement from the passers by was great.

"People were knocking on the window giving thumbs up."

On June 15, Serenity Living opened its doors to the public and despite the impact of the pandemic, Sharon said she "just wanted to be happy" and do something she loved.

The shop boasts high quality well known brands such as Red Cuckoo handbags, Stoneglow Candles of London, Sass & Belle and East of India gifts and customers can also bring their own furniture in to be revamped - and has quickly gained interest from residents.

In the future, Sharon said she has aspirations to incorporate a tea room into the business to welcome more of the community.

Sharon said she loves being part of the Prescot Community and seeing all the positive changes in the town

She said: "I don’t think I thought about it [the pandemic] that much because I didn’t think anything worse can happen from losing Alex.

"I decided I was going to be happy. Little girls they want to be happy and I want my daughter to see me happy and I know Alex would’ve wanted me to be happy.

"I love being part of the Prescot Community and seeing all the positive changes. I can’t wait to see what happens over the next few years.

"The welcome from our customers has been fantastic, with everyone commenting that this is just what Prescot needs, how warm and welcoming the shop is, that they love coming back and bringing friends.

"It’s been lovely just to see people coming in and chatting and asking where I’m up to.

"I’ve had friends who’ve come to see me in the shop, people I used to work with and they say that I look like I’ve always been here."