A story without a happy ending, but one that hopefully gives others in similar situations some insight into moving on when a tragedy happens.
Christmas 2006 was like most other peoples Christmas, family Christmas dinner and relatives visiting in the afternoon, my wife’s father had died suddenly two months earlier so her mother was spending more time with us this year.
Chloe had been feeling unwell on Christmas day complaining of a pain in her chest but like the little fighter she was she was determined to join us on the Lions Boxing day run along the seafront at Porthcawl.
So on a cold Boxing Day morning Myself, Lesley, Laura and Chloe all ran the 5mile run. That afternoon Chloe was so tired she went to lay down upstairs in bed, and I thought bless her she must have really pushed herself that morning little did I know why she had found it so tough.
I was back to work running my own business the following day but Chloe was still very tired and after a visit to A and E was diagnosed by the hospital with pneumonia as they had seen fluid in her lungs on an x-ray.
Chloe was to be admitted to hospital to receive antibiotics to combat the illness.
A few days into the treatment my telephone in work rang and it was the hospital “can you please call down to visit” I can’t I said I have a business to run, I can call down later on today, “ we would like you to call down now if you could”. she insisted
Putting the phone down and walking to my car the seriousness of this phone call was starting to hit me and in that few minutes my whole life changed forever.
When I arrived my wife who was normally so positive and upbeat looked broken and she shook her head as I walked to the bedside. A Consultant had talked to Lesley before my arrival saying Chloe needed to go to Cardiff Hospital in the morning and to be prepared that we would see children very poorly.
That night we just sat by her bedside watching Chloe sleeping hoping everything was going to be ok.
At this point no one had mentioned the word cancer to me, nor did I have any idea what the significance of us entering this ward was until I saw the word “oncology” on the signage and my legs became heavier and heavier as the realisation of what was happening was slowly sinking in.
I could describe in detail the various treatments and events that occurred over the next 12 months but in this story will just say that Chloe was suffering from a very rare cancer called Desmoplastic Round Cell Sarcoma, this particularly horrendous cancer manifests itself in the abdomen and seeds itself throughout the body making it normally terminal at diagnosis. The cancer is so rare that there is very little research into its treatment, in fact there are so few cases that we soon learned of one little boy called Joshua Cornelius who’s mother had set up the Joshua Foundation charity which had given help and support to so many other sick children.
We lost Chloe on December 8th 2007, and wondered how we were ever going to cope now as Chloe had been our lives 24/7 for the past 11 months and suddenly there were no more appointments no more hospital visits no more medication to give, just a huge empty void that once was our lives.
Slowly we started to function on a day to day basis and we received a lot of support from friends and family and from Latch who had been with us from day one of Chloe’s entry to the hospital, and who kept in touch with us through bereaved parents meetings.
My own business had now gone into liquidation and so we found ourselves seeking employment, both to meet our financial commitments and also to give us something else to focus on, so Lesley took a job as a housekeeper in a local guest house and I became a postman.
A few people on our local community had already approached us to ask if there was anyway they could offer support by organising some fundraising events so we decided it made sense to set up our own charity in Chloe’s name so that we could have a specific goal and fundraising account.
The charity was formed in 2008 and we had originally planned funding a holiday home in Chloe’s name that other children and families could use for a break from the hospital environment, in later years however it became apparent both in terms of an appropriate building plus the ongoing costs of such a building that the costs were going to be beyond the funding of our small charity, and so we decided to use the funds in support of other charities in the fulfilment of their own specific goals.
This is when we got in touch with the The Noah’s Ark appeal and we have been delighted that we have now not only been able to put the majority of our funds back into the hospital that offered such support to Chloe throughout her treatment, but also that we can now have a permanent acknowledgment of the funds raised in her name.
I had run myself since the age of 49 as a way of de-stressing from running my own business but it was very much low key with the odd club run although I did promise myself to run the London Marathon at the age of 50 if I got a place in the ballot, which in fact I did and felt very proud.
Since Chloe’s passing however the running has become a major part of both my own life and that of my wife Lesley as we have both found a way to gain relaxation and some fulfilment in our lives through exercise.
As we had both experienced the advantages of how running was helping us both mentally and physically it made sense to incorporate this into our fundraising challenges and the idea of running 100 marathons was born.
I should hit this magical target this year I am now on 84 marathons with 16 more booked up till March 27th, whilst Lesley continues to clock up many half marathons both officially and otherwise as she will often run a good part of the marathon courses I run.
I have now left my work as a postman and we are hoping the sale of our house will fund our retirement for the next few years so that we can continue in our fundraising which is now focussed on the Noah’s ark Appeal.
We have plenty of challenges still to come and whilst we continue in good health we consider ourselves blessed at the ages of 56 and 59 to be physically still able to compete in them.
Paul Bigmore, Chloe’s Dad
The Chloe Bigmore Trust