A DEVOTED mum of a brave county girl whose cancer battle captured the hearts of the community has vowed her memory will live on as part of Acorns Children’s Hospice’s festive celebrations.
Lily-Mai Bishop and her family were supported by Acorns throughout her four-year fight with a brain tumour.
The seven-year-old spent her final days at the charity’s hospice in Worcester, Acorns for the Three Counties – one of her ‘favourite places’.
Lily-Mai’s mum Liz will be among those remembering someone special as part of Acorns ‘Celebrate Your Star’ campaign, which invites friends and family members to honour their loved ones by dedicating a star on the charity’s virtual tree for a small donation.
And Liz’s Christmas wish is for people to join her and help the charity continue providing lifeline care and support for families like hers.
“It’s important to me and my family Lily’s memory is kept alive and supporting Acorns Celebrate Your Star campaign is one of the ways we remember Lily at Christmas. She loved coming to Acorns, especially at Christmas, it was one of her favourite places,” she said.
“So many people rely on Acorns valuable support, not just the parents and the child, but the whole family. Acorns went above and beyond for my family – it was a home from home, where I knew Lily was safe and happy.
Lily-Mai was born by emergency caesarean at 37 weeks in April 2011. She hadn’t grown as expected and her heartbeat had become dangerously slow. Although very tiny for her age, her doctors had no concerns.
But her mum had a nagging feeling something wasn’t right. She noticed Lily-Mai had facial dysmorphic features and the health visitor at her six-week check agreed.
Blood tests provided no clear answers and Lily-Mai was diagnosed with a syndrome without a name – a condition so rare it remains undiagnosed today. The diagnosis came with the prognosis Lily-Mai was life limited.
Her complex condition meant she was unable to walk unaided or talk. She had acute gastric problems and an unsafe swallow, leaving her with a serious risk of choking.
Liz said her ‘little fighter’ survived three years of her life before being given the second devastating diagnosis of a brain tumour in July 2014.
Lily-Mai bravely fought her cancer for four years, enduring gruelling surgeries and treatment, facing each one with a smile. She passed away in June 2018.
Since Lily-Mai’s passing, her family have dedicated their time to ensure her memory lives on by raising money for Acorns to ensure its vital care and support is available for every child and family that needs it.
Liz said: “I can’t thank Acorns enough for all their love and support during that time and afterwards. It was hard, obviously, I’d lost my child. But I didn’t have to worry about having a cry because I had to be strong for everyone or trying to be strong because I had Acorns supporting me and my family.
“If we didn’t have Acorns as part of our lives at that time, circumstances would have been very different. They were literally our family, our support network, and still are to this day.”
Last year, Liz was among the hundreds of people to remember a loved one through Acorns inaugural Celebrate Your Star campaign.
For each dedication made, a physical star will be hung on a Christmas tree at one of Acorns three hospices and one will be posted to the person paying tribute – to display at home in time for Christmas.
Ben Gilchrist, Acorns in Memory manager, said: “Although most of us can look forward to this Christmas as a chance to make up for lost time, sadly many families who use Acorns don’t have that luxury. When your child has a life limiting condition, every moment together counts.
Anyone wishing to celebrate their star and support Acorns is encouraged to make their dedication before Thursday, December 16.
Visit www.acorns.org.uk/mystar for more.