Sundee Rutter wasn’t surrounded by her loved ones during her final moments.
Rutter, a 42-year-old stage 4 breast cancer survivor and single mother of six, lost her battle to COVID-19 on March 16 in Washington state, ABC affiliate KOMO news reported earlier this month.
Due to the need to social distance in order help quell the spread of the virus, Rutter’s mother, sister and all of her children gathered around a small window looking into her hospital room and said goodbye to her through a walkie-talkie, BuzzFeed News reported Monday.
“I told her I love her ... she shouldn’t worry about the kids,” Elijah Ross-Rutter, her fourth-oldest child, told the website.
Rutter’s immune system had been weakened as a result of a yearlong bout with breast cancer and initially went to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett — the hospital where the first known case of COVID-19 in the US was detected, according to KOMO — on March 3. She was sent home, but on March 7, Rutter returned to the hospital and was admitted for pneumonia. The next day, she tested positive for coronavirus and was completely isolated.
“Like, I’m about to lose my best friend and she can’t even hear me,” Ross-Rutter told BuzzFeed.
He added that while visiting in the hospital, staff entered sealed rooms wearing full protective suits and that he was “able to text” his mom. But her responses turned into emoji-only ones as her condition worsened.
On March 16, doctors called Rutter’s family to come in and say their goodbyes. She died that afternoon, KOMO reports.
“This has not been an easy road for these kids,” Carrie Frederickson, a friend of Rutter’s, wrote on a GoFundMe page she set up to raise money for the family. “They have been through a lot in the past several years.”
Frederickson, who calls her late friend an “absolutely amazing mom,” noted that Rutter’s three oldest kids are in their 20s while her three youngest are in high school and middle school.
According to the page, the children’s father had already died, leaving them without parents.
Frederickson added a description of her friend to the fundraising page that Rutter’s eldest daughter, Alexis, wrote back when the family was trying to raise money during Rutter’s cancer battle. The daughter described her mom as “genuine, selfless, courageous, hard-working, and caring.”
“She is always the first to lend a helping hand to those in need,” she wrote. “And has consistently remained positive and resilient through the many curve balls life has thrown her way.”
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