Cra­dle To Grave

An unplanned pregnancy be­came some­thing much worse…

Pick Me Up! Special - - Contents - Roz Wright, 56, Colch­ester

Knock­ing on my daugh­ter’s door in a new dress, I braced my­self for her re­ac­tion. ‘Come in!’ she replied. Demi, 22, was sat on her bed, sur­rounded by make-up.

She looked up and gasped. ‘Mum! What is that?! Go and change!’she de­manded.

I laughed. That was my Demi – young and feisty. As the baby of the fam­ily, she got away with mur­der.

She was the only bird left in the nest af­ter my son Wes­ley, 28, had gone trav­el­ling, and daugh­ter Holly, 25, had mar­ried.

‘What’s wrong with it?’ I laughed, pre­tend­ing I was clue­less.

‘Fol­low me!’ she said, lead­ing me back to my wardrobe.

She picked apart every dress, blouse, pair of trousers and jumper I owned.

‘Nope, no, def­i­nitely not... How about this one Mum?’

She held up a silk dress that she knew I had al­ways loved.

‘Please let me do your make-up too!’ Demi in­sisted.

She was train­ing to be a make-up artist, and was putting to­gether a pro­fes­sional port­fo­lio.

Demi had done my make-up for as long as I could re­mem­ber. She’d done her sis­ter’s for her wed­ding – that was when she met her long term boyfriend, Mitch.

As Demi pow­dered blusher on my cheeks, I was so thrilled that all her dreams were coming to­gether.

Sud­denly, Demi dou­bled over with a yelp.

‘It’s fun be­ing a woman isn’t it, love?’ I said, rolling my eyes.

‘I keep telling you Mum, it doesn’t feel like nor­mal pe­riod cramps,’ she in­sisted.

Over the next few weeks, the pains grew worse.

One night, she cried out so much from her bed­room that I held her for hours in my arms.

The next day, I marched her to A&E, and de­manded that a doc­tor saw her. Demi was ex­hausted as she did a urine sam­ple.

Then the nurse re­turned with a smile.

‘Con­grat­u­la­tions Demi, you’re preg­nant!’ she said.

The room went silent. ‘But that’s im­pos­si­ble,’ Demi in­sisted. ‘I’m on the pill, and I’m on my pe­riod! There’s no way I’m preg­nant.’ The doc­tors re­ferred us to the Early Pregnancy Unit in Colch­ester for an ul­tra­sound scan a week later.

I got but­ter­flies as I saw the gel squirted on her flat tummy. Was I re­ally go­ing to be a grand­mother? ‘There’s noth­ing there, Demi,’ the sono­g­ra­pher said, con­fused. ‘But it might just be too early for it to show.’ They took more blood tests and urine sam­ples which all came back with the same thing. Pos­i­tive. But still, Demi wouldn’t ac­cept it. The pain was now track­ing from one side, to her back, and then to her front. It was mak­ing her phys­i­cally weak.

Then one day, Demi sat me and her dad down to­gether in pri­vate.

‘I’ve de­cided to have an in­jec­tion to get rid of the baby,’ she said qui­etly. ‘Mitch and I love each other, but we’re just not ready.’

I could see she was in pain, emo­tion­ally and phys­i­cally, so I held her hand and promised to stand by her in what­ever she de­cided.

The in­jec­tion was sup­posed to get rid of any­thing grow­ing in her womb, but her pregnancy hor­mone lev­els were still in­creas­ing.

She was bloated and vom­it­ing, but it wasn’t morn­ing sick­ness. Af­ter I de­manded a third ul­tra­sound, we got shock­ing re­sults.

There was a mass of blood in her ab­domen that sug­gested the baby was grow­ing in her tubes. Demi was

whisked away for keyhole surgery.

I was in pieces when the sur­geon re­turned to say they hadn’t found any baby or signs of pregnancy. In­stead, they’d found an­other mass be­hind her liver. It was 12cm – the size of a baby’s head.

Demi took it so well. She was re­lieved they had found the root of her pain, but she was still in agony.

As she was trans­ferred to a liver ward in Ad­den­brooke’s hos­pi­tal in Cam­bridge, my lit­tle Demi was a su­per­woman.

Then we re­ceived the worst news a par­ent could wish for.

It was cancer.

‘This can’t be hap­pen­ing,’ I cried, dev­as­tated.

Sud­denly my vi­sions of a chub­by­cheeked grand­child faded away, and my eyes rested on my frail daugh­ter. She was only 22. As the doc­tors kept her in the ward for the rest of the week, her sis­ter Holly slept over and they re­laxed with face masks. Demi was go­ing through crip­pling pain but she still man­aged to laugh and paint her nails. She was just so strong through every­thing - as she al­ways was. She started plan­ning her life with cancer, think­ing that it was just some­thing she’d have to live with and man­age for the rest of her life. As doc­tors took more blood and urine sam­ples, we waited anx­iously for talk of what Demi would need to do next to get over this we were ex­pect­ing talk of drugs, ra­di­a­tion, and other treat­ments, such as chemo­ther­apy. But it was ter­ri­ble news.‘demi, the re­sults from the sec­ond biopsy have re­turned,’ the doc­tor said. ‘I’m afraid it’s ade­no­car­ci­noma.’ All th­ese long words meant noth­ing to me. ‘Am I go­ing to die?’ Demi cried. The doc­tor looked her in the eye: ‘Yes, it’s in­cur­able.’ It was a trav­el­ling cancer – there was no pri­mary source and it would con­tinue to spread around her body, shut­ting down her or­gans one by one.

‘I’m afraid you only have weeks left to live,’ he added softly.

My world crashed down right in front of me and her dad, Chris, col­lapsed. He was a mil­i­tary man and I’d never seen him cry. And now he was bro­ken, like my heart. My baby was go­ing to die. We held her tight, our salty tears soak­ing her hos­pi­tal robe.

We stayed up all night re­liv­ing memories of her meet­ing Mitch at Holly’s wed­ding, her pass­ing her driv­ing test last year on the sec­ond at­tempt - and cry­ing with laugh­ter at her on­line shop­ping ad­dic­tion. It was a night I’ll cher­ish for­ever. Over the next five days, Demi be­came a shell of her former self as she grew even weaker.

She de­vel­oped jaun­dice, her beau­ti­ful hair be­came brit­tle and the cancer spread into her lungs and she could barely talk.

Soon, we had to make the dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion of se­dat­ing her. Her qual­ity of life was wors­en­ing dras­ti­cally and I couldn’t bear to see her gasp­ing for breath.

We said our emo­tional good­byes and she was se­dated in her sleep. We couldn’t speak to her again af­ter that, or even look into her eyes.

Demi had a peace­ful death af­ter fi­nally es­cap­ing the pain and dis­com­fort of the cancer.

You just don’t ex­pect your own child to pass away be­fore you. I’ll never feel whole again.

We have thrown our­selves into do­ing pos­i­tive things.

Demi’s cousin Zoe com­pleted the Lon­don Marathon this year for Cancer Re­search, and she has also set up a fundrais­ing page which has raised over £20 000. As a fam­ily, we re­cently com­pleted our sec­ond Race For Life, in Demi’s mem­ory.

Demi was just a young girl with dreams for the fu­ture.

She was my youngest daugh­ter

Demi and Mitch had their whole lives ahead of them

She was beau­ti­ful in­side and out

Demi with her lov­ing Dad

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