Waipuku­rau farewells Gra­cie

CHB Mail - - News -

Waipuku­rau’s Grace Thompson, a 10-year-old girl with a “cap­ti­vat­ing smile and a con­ta­gious laugh”, passed away on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 5.

Gra­cie had been di­ag­nosed with adrenal cor­ti­cal car­ci­noma, a rare dis­ease caused by a can­cer­ous growth in the adrenal cor­tex, at the end of Fe­bru­ary.

In the months since, Gra­cie be­came a big part of an “in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive” CHB com­mu­nity, says her mum Heidi, as a Givealit­tle page was es­tab­lished and in­di­vid­u­als, groups and busi­nesses started fundrais­ing, do­nat­ing money and vouch­ers, of­fer­ing their ser­vices and pro­vid­ing bak­ing and meals for the fam­ily.

“One of the first things we said when we re­ceived the di­ag­no­sis was ‘we will never leave her alone’,” says Heidi, for whom this meant step­ping away from her job at Vet Ser­vices HB’s Waipuku­rau branch. “The team at Vet Ser­vices were amaz­ing and in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive, which gave me the time to spend with Gra­cie.”

Set­tling into the fam­ily’s “new nor­mal”, without their youngest mem­ber, is a daily chal­lenge, Heidi says, “as Gra­cie was our shadow. For those seven months we were with her the whole time, at home or at Star­ship.”

Right from the start, Heidi says the fam­ily knew where they stood with this par­tic­u­lar form of can­cer. It was so rare — one in a mil­lion — that Star­ship had only had one other case.

“Be­cause it was so rare the re­search wasn’t there, there was no proven treat­ment. The best op­tion would have been surgery, but Gra­cie had sec­on­daries in her lungs so surgery wasn’t an op­tion.”

In­stead Gra­cie had six weeks in hos­pi­tal and sev­eral rounds of chemo­ther­apy, all of which she took in her stride.

“She was al­ways cruisey, even as a baby. She never wanted to make a fuss, she was al­ways keen to please. She con­tin­ued to smile and en­joy ev­ery day.”

For Gra­cie that meant en­joy­ing her fam­ily, her pony Bella, Ziggy the fam­ily dog and rid­ing her bike.

A fam­ily trip to Queen­stown, made pos­si­ble by the Make-A-Wish Foun­da­tion, was a chance to make mem­o­ries in­clud­ing a hot air bal­loon ride, para­sail­ing, horse rid­ing and moun­tain bik­ing on an elec­tric bike.

“She had no pain, it was re­ally spe­cial, just us and Gra­cie. She did ev­ery­thing we did. For us it was about spend­ing as much time to­gether as we could, in the time that we had — though we never wanted to be­lieve that was all the time we had.

“We car­ried on liv­ing as much as we could — as she could. She car­ried on rid­ing her pony un­til two weeks be­fore she died.”

Heidi says she and hus­band Chris drew from Gra­cie’s courage and strength.

“You do what you have to do, as a par­ent.”

Heidi says the sup­port of the CHB com­mu­nity helped the fam­ily to be there for Gra­cie.

“She was mak­ing plas­ter of paris hearts and paint­ing them — it was ther­apy for her and she was very good at it — these are be­ing spread through­out homes and busi­nesses in CHB as a thank you, in mem­ory of Gra­cie.”

A cel­e­bra­tion of Grace’s life was held at the Waipawa Mu­nic­i­pal The­atre, Ke­nil­worth St on Fri­day, Oc­to­ber 12.

Gra­cie Thompson with her beloved pony Bella.

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