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Lawyer Courtney Blakeslee-Cush dies at 34

Courtney Blakeslee-Cush had never been sick a day in her life, according to her family.

But when she learned, while pregnant with her second son, that she had stomach and esophageal cancer, Blakeslee-Cush had one mission - make sure her baby was born as strong as possible.

"She sacrificed everything," said her father, Richard Blakeslee. "She thought nothing of herself and would do nothing that might affect her baby - even taking Advil."

Blakeslee-Cush, 34, died Thursday at Stony Brook University Medical Center, but not before bringing her 2-month-old son, Sloane Patrick, to their Blue Point home two weeks ago.

"My wife gave her life for our son Sloane," said James Cush, her husband. "I will miss my wife, but her memory will always live through our two sons."

Blakeslee-Cush, a lawyer, became aware of her illness 28 weeks into her pregnancy after complaining she felt bloated and had trouble swallowing. The cancer was diagnosed after tests at the high-risk pregnancy center at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. Initially, doctors wanted to do a Caesarean delivery right away, but she resisted until the 32nd week. The baby was delivered May 26 at 3 pounds, 14 ounces. The boy now weighs 7 pounds.

Richard Blakeslee, owner of Patchogue waterfront restaurant Oar House, described his daughter as a "brilliant kid" with an "electric personality who could just light up a room with her crystal blue eyes."

A graduate of University of North Carolina, Blakeslee-Cush first worked for designer Ann Taylor, opening up stores. Later, in 2000, she graduated from Touro Law School. She then worked as an assistant Brookhaven Town attorney for three years as counsel to the zoning board of appeals.

Later, she joined the firm of Rivkin, Radler in Uniondale, specializing in land planning and zoning work. "She had the personality to bring people together and work things out," her father said.

Blakeslee-Cush met her husband, who owns his own air-conditioning business, four years ago at a friend's party and they married a year later. The couple also have another son, Blake, who is 2 1/2.

He said his daughter was always healthy, never smoked or drank, and ran regularly.

Other survivors include her mother, Georgia, of East Patchogue; her sister, Lindsey Chalifoux, of East Patchogue; and grandparents George and Josephine Leon, of Patchogue.

A wake will be held at Moloney's Lake Funeral Home in Lake Ronkonkoma Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 4 and from 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at Our Lady of the Snow Roman Catholic Church in Blue Point at 11 a.m. Monday. Burial arrangements were pending Friday.

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