5 Years

Today it’s 5 years that I have survived without Milly…. 5 years is a lifetime to be without one of your children, and yet it’s no time at all….
The pain…the loss…her absence from every part of my life is still felt so intensely…it hurts and my heart breaks every single day.
Each year without Milly has brought different challenges…. up until this year I have always known where Milly was meant to be, I often would think she should be at school now, or she should be getting off the bus with her friends, for the last 5 years I’ve been able to place her where she should have been and imagine what she would have been doing.
But it’s different this year…. I don’t known where she would be now or what she would be doing …she may have chosen college or 6th form or even an apprenticeship…this year it’s hard in so many new and different ways…and I know that is never going to change as the years continue to pass by.
Milly will always be missing from me and I will always be wondering….
But she will always be part of everything I do, I made a promise to myself when I knew that Milly would never get the chance to grow up, I promised that no one would forget her, that she would be remembered and thought about with love.
And MilIy is very much remembered, not only by those who know and love her but also by families that we have helped along the way with Milly’s Smiles.
I know families take time to read about Milly, and I hope they gain a little insight into the person she was, Milly was filled with love, fun and laughter, she brought a smile to everyone who was lucky enough to know her.
Milly’s love will always surround me, my love for Milly, and her love for me will never be stolen by death. It is infinite as it is powerful, it stretches past forever and remains with me for always.
I feel honoured and blessed to be Milly’s mum, I had 11 and a half years with her…it wasn’t and never will be enough…she is forever loved and endlessly missed.
“I love her with the utmost love of which my soul is capable, and she was taken from me. Yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure, I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it”.         William Wordsworth

Deliveries of Milly Bags continue throughout pandemic.

During the Covid-19 pandemic we have continued to work hard to ensure we have been able to keep supplying our Milly Bags when they have been needed.

We feel very privileged that all 3 hospitals that we support consider our Milly Bags an essential service for all newly diagnosed families and as such have allowed us into the hospital to make our deliveries.  Children are still being diagnosed with cancer related illnesses every day, and as long as this happens we will continue to support these families.

Our fabulous volunteers David and Vicky made the journey to Manchester Children’s Hospital to deliver 25 Milly Bags to Ward 84, the delivery included our 500th Bag….  whilst we are very proud that we are able to support newly diagnosed families we are extremely aware that 500 children and their families have had their lives turned upside down, with the most devastating news.

As well as delivering to Manchester David and Vicky also crossed the Pennines to Leeds to deliver 25 Milly Bags to Ward L31, we have been supporting Leeds for 10 months and during this time have delivered 69 bags to the hospital.

Alder Hey Hospital had some bad news for us, they had a flood that went into the store room where our bags our kept, resulting in 7 of our Bags becoming contaminated and  having to be destroyed.  This left the ward without any Milly Bags for their new admissions it also meant we had lost £700 worth of Milly Bags.

Fortunately we managed to quickly make up a further 25 bags and deliver them the following day which took the total amount of bags donated to 160.  The hospital trust has also agreed to reimburse us for the cost of the Bags which is very welcome news to us during this difficult time.

We never forget that all of this is possible because of the tremendous support we continue to receive every day, sometimes from the most unexpected of sources.  When I started the charity in November 2015,  never did I realise how much of an impact we would have with hospitals and newly diagnosed families, and never did I think we would be so well supported over the years.  This is pure testament to how loved Milly is and for this I am grateful to every single person who supports us.

To be able to make a difference to so many families in the name of my daughter is an honour.

 

Happy Birthday in Heaven Katie …

Katie, an Angel of Ward 84 turned 18 on August 13th… her brave mum set up a fundraiser for her birthday and has raised an outstanding amount of £2528.00.  This testament to how loved and missed Katie is.

It is an honour to be chosen by Katies mum and we feel very blessed..

Please take the time to read about this extraordinary young lady, her bravery, courage and determination is so inspiring.

Katie MacRae was diagnosed with cancer when she was only 16  years of age. The cancer was found in her liver, pancreas, spine and lung and was so rare and so widespread, the doctors were not sure if chemotherapy would work. They decided they would carry out a scan after 2 rounds of chemo.

The second dose had to be reduced in strength as it made her so so ill that she ended up in hospital for about 6 weeks. She didn’t eat for about 12 weeks and lost so much weight.

Katie eventually underwent 6 rounds of chemotherapy.

After the last chemo in February 2018, she began to gain her strength and began to regain her appetite once again. Katie was well enough to be able to attend Prom with her friends and in her own words “The whole prom experience was amazing”.

After 3 months of living life something close to that of a normal teenager, Katie had a scan in Sept 2018, the results unfortunately showed the cancer was back and had spread much further.

Katie was referred to the team at the Christie.

Katie had also started Cardinal Newman college in September to study A level combined English, Law and German.

She wanted to start afresh. None of her friends (other than school friends) knew about her cancer and she didn’t even let on to her school friends it was back as she didn’t want to be treated any differently by anyone. She didn’t want them to worry.

Chemo started again in October. It was in the form of tablets. 2 weeks on 2 weeks off. This meant she could carry on college as normal.

Further scans after 3 months of chemo showed it had not slowed, so next treatment was an infusion that she would wear at home.

Katie had a portacath fitted so the chemo could be administered in clinic and we would come home wearing the “bottle” of chemo . The outreach team would removed the chemo once it had all infused after approx 2 days.

Katie knew time for her was short – but always kept positive. She never discussed it with us, she had an amazing way of being incredibly strong, and just skilfully changing the subject when awkward moments came up, we realise now it was her way of protecting us from the pain.

She was always the one her friends turned to if they had an issue that they needed to talk through and was always there to offer advice and listen to their problems. If only they knew of hers….

Katie purchased some poetry books that dealt with serious issues, death being one of them, which showed she had in a way come to terms with what was happening to her. Some of the poems were bookmarked by Katie in the books, when we read these we had to use them at her funeral.

The dreaded cancer spread to Katie’s brain and it was really just a matter of time, but in her inimitable Katie way she still kept laughing and smiling even creating Katie’s party room in her room and inviting all staff to “come in for a skive and cake” whenever they popped in to carry out their daily duties.

Being stuck inside in a hospital room was difficult for Katie she so wanted some fresh air, as it turned out thanks to a wonderful nurse – the day before she passed away, she was wheeled in her bed outside into the garden at the Christie.

She was so pleased to feel the sunshine and shouted at a pigeon in case it thought it was ok to “Shit on her bed!”

We had a lovely evening with family and friends around her bedside eating pizza and chatting and laughing. This was to be last time we had with ‘our’ Katie and although it is sad to think of it as our last interaction with Katie it was beautifully perfect in every way.

The next day she was unresponsive and passed peacefully away shortly after this with us by her side.

Her funeral truly was a celebration of her life with over 500 attending the crematorium and over 200 coming back to the venue for a “party”. There was laughter and smiling all afternoon, as people remembered Katie and her cheeky Katieness.

We all miss her terribly but looking back at her determination, bravery and constant positivity keeps a smile on our face in her memory.
So…. to “Keep Your Katieness” means

Stay determined
Stay positive
Keep smiling. it’s the only way
Always think of others and help them if you can
Just roll with it. Take each day as it comes.
Laugh lots – try to see a funny side of everything

We try to live by this always. – Katie’s Mum 🌻

 

Ward L31 Grandad raises awareness of Milly’s Smiles

Kaiden was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma at Leeds Children’s Hospital earlier this year and received one of our Milly Bags.  The bag was such a huge support and comfort to the family that Grandad Aiden decided that he wanted to do something to support our charity as well as raise funds for his grandson.

Turning his hand to what he does best, and working alongside some very talented people, he recorded the beautiful song Angel and produced a video to highlight the work of Milly’s Smiles.

Aiden is the vocalist on the track, which was written by Lee Brammall and the video was put together by Rob Russell Davies.

There are four tracks on the CD which Aiden is selling for £6 inc post and packaging. Contact Aiden on aidenjay@yahoo.com

We love the support these lovely people have given us, it always means so much to know that our Milly Bag as helped families during one of the worst times of their lives, and we are so very grateful to the team for this generous gesture.

 

 

Stewart takes on Mount Snowdon for Milly’s Smiles

In March this year Percy aged 2 years was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukemia)and dad Stewart says it shook their entire world.

The diagnosis was very quick and Percy was admitted to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital to start chemotherapy immediately.

Although Percy responded well to the chemotherapy, leukaemia cells were still present and it was deemed that a Bone Marrow Transplant was required.  A donor was found and the transplant completed in late June.

Percy is now in week three of his recovery from the transplant and progressing well.

Stewart tells us that the family “would like to raise money for the wonderful charity, Milly’s Smiles, so that they can continue to spread happy vibes through the children’s hospital and be able to deliver the special bags to newly admitted children and parents who need it most”.

“The Milly Bag was very much appreciated and something, that in the midst of tragedy managed to put a smile on our faces”.

When Percy comes out of hospital, he will still be extremely vulnerable and unable to join his dad on the trek up Snowdon,  so dad is doing it on Percy’s behalf.

We wish Stewart the very best of luck and look forward to hearing all about it when he completes the climb on 5 September.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/littlepercy

Red Rose Runners collect toiletries for Milly Bags

A Running Club in Preston and South Ribble have been busy during lockdown collecting toiletries for our Milly Bags.

Organiser and ultra marathon runner Wendy Bee knows 2 families whom Milly’s Smiles have supported with a Milly Bag and wanted to do something to help.

We collected the toiletries from Wendy’s garage last week and were amazed by the amount that had been collected!  The generosity of the running club is phenomenal and this will keep us going for many months to come.

A huge thank you to everyone who supported us, we are beyond grateful.

Much needed donation of toiletries from local school

Form 8 Lister at Bowland High School in Clitheroe, have kindly been collecting toiletries for us over the last few months. This has come at such a perfect time as fundraising and donations have been very few during the pandemic and every item, every penny we receive helps us tremendously. Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed…this means such a lot to our families during a very emotional, frightening time.

West Pennine Group Ltd provide industrial racking for new Unit

When we moved into our new unit in February we were helped by so many amazing people, in so many ways. One thing that we knew we would definitely need was industrial racking, somewhere to store all our stock for our Milly Bags.

We put out a plea for help which was answered by Nick from West Pennine Storage Equipment Ltd. Nick worked with us over the following few weeks to determine exactly what we needed, and then the company generously provided us with a wall of industrial racking completely free of charge.

To say we are thrilled is an understatement,, the racking is perfect and has completed the refurbishment of our unit.

West Pennine Group have been amazing from start to finish, nothing has been too much trouble.

Thank you seems so small when our gratitude to this company is huge, but a million times over thank you to everyone involved and especially to Nick for his professionalism and kindness.

“WP Group provide a comprehensive range of storage equipment, from shelving to lockers and trolleys, which made them an ideal partner for the team at Milly’s Smiles, and the company are very excited to have been able to help them settle into their new location”. Director Colin Evans

WP Contact Details
Telephone – 01706 875500
Email – westpennine@gmail.com

Covid-19

We hope everyone is managing to keep well and safe during this very worrying time.  The team at Milly’s Smiles are all following government guidelines and staying home to save lives and protect the NHS.  Personally  I work as a District Nurse, very much on the front line visiting sick patients who are being nursed at home.  Staying home is not an option that I have.

The charity are aware that we have been quiet since the country went on lock down.  We are busy behind the scenes preparing for when the country gets back to normal.  The support to our hospital’s has not changed during this pandemic, all wards were well stocked with Milly Bags prior to the lock-down and so far we haven’t had any requests for additional Milly Bag as of yet.

Despite the strain on the NHS, children are still being diagnosed with cancer related illnesses and our Milly Bags continue to being given out.  No family would ever choose to be given one of our bags, but should they sadly find themselves in hospital with their child they are so very thankful to have the support our bags provide.  We have received some lovely messages from families who have been in the awful position of receiving a Milly Bag.

“Hi, we have had the devastating news that no parent ever wants to hear and we have received a Milly’s Smiles Bag.  Our 3 year old daughter Olivia loves her rainbow blanket, thank you so much xxx”

“We received our Milly’s smiles bag on Wednesday just gone, we wasn’t expecting to stay in the night so when one of the lovely nurses at children Manchester hospital brought one to us it honestly brought tears to my eyes an amazing thought and idea for partners who don’t expect to stay and was so useful and beautiful to have,my daughter Matilda is only 11 months old and she loved the blanket and little teddy’ who we’ve named Elsie

To all our families who are self-isolating to keep their children safe, we send our thoughts and our love.

Please everyone, keep yourselves and your families safe.

 

 

Children put pen to paper to raise money for Milly’s Smiles

Children from across the country have been putting pen to paper and produced some amazing writing in the form of Shenanigans’20 Children’s Anthology; Aspiring Dreams.

Between the pages of this book are the brilliant imaginations of children, who are aged between ten and fifteen years-old.  Topics range from a time traveller to dealing with bullying at school.  Some of these children have never written anything like this before, but have produced some amazing work, with the proceeds going straight to Milly’s Smiles.

We look forward to reading the stories when the book is on Sale, and wish them all the best with the book signing that will be taking place on April 4th.

Huge thank you for supporting Milly’s Smiles.