A 42-year-old mother of six from Washington reportedly died of coronavirus two weeks after she initially showed symptoms of the disease that has largely impacted the state.
When Sundee Rutter fell ill two weeks ago, she visited a local hospital but was soon sent home, her family told ABC affiliate KOMO. But in just a few days, Rutter — a stage 4 breast cancer survivor — was taken to a different hospital with a fever and labored breathing, telltale symptoms of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.
Her immune system had been weakened as a result of her previous cancer treatments, and Rutter died on March 16, a week after she was admitted, KOMO reported.
“When I got the news of her, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is not something to play with, this is serious,’ and now my outlook is different,” friend Jessica Harris told KOMO.
“She was a wonderful person, and there’s not many like her out there anymore,” she added. “Great friend, great mother, great wife, she was a wonderful person… We’re pretty devastated. She beat cancer and lost the battle to coronavirus? It’s just crazy.”
Rutter now leaves behind six children, three of whom are in college while the others are either in high school or middle school, according to a GoFundMe page set up to help the family. Rutter’s children are now without their parents following the death of their father a few years ago, the page explained.
GoFundMe Sundee Rutter
The first symptoms of the disease typically begin in the upper respiratory system and present as coughing and sneezing, much like a cold. But as the virus progresses, symptoms will become more like the flu, and infected persons may experience a running fever, fatigue and body aches.
According to the CDC, because older adults are more at risk of suffering serious symptoms from coronavirus, they have been advised to stay indoors and avoid crowded places to reduce their exposure during the outbreak.
As of Monday afternoon, there have been at least 39,819 cases and 455 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. In Washington alone, there have been at least 1,844 cases and 98 deaths, the Times reported.
The GoFundMe set up to help Rutter’s six children had raised more than $232,000 as of Monday afternoon.
“This has not been an easy road for these kids. They have been through a lot in the past several years. Sundee was an absolutely amazing mom and instilled only the utmost of values in her children,” the donation page reads.
“Please help support this family to get some housing set up and for whatever else the family may need in the coming months,” the description continued. “They are a proud family but they touched so many people’s lives that I know many want to help in any way they can.”
Meanwhile, GoFundMe.org, the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, has launched a fundraiser that offers support for organizations and individuals affected by coronavirus, the platform said in a statement provided to PEOPLE.
“By donating to the GoFundMe.org general relief fund, the donation supports many individuals who have started fundraisers on GoFundMe related to this pandemic, and organizations dedicated to serving the people,” the company said. “Donations to the general relief fundraiser of GoFundMe.org, a United States charity, are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law, and will broadly support communities impacted by coronavirus.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.