Grieving mum vows to keep fundraising page going in memory of young daughter

A grieving mum has vowed to keep fundraising in memory of her daughter – who raised more than £55,000 for research into her condition within weeks. 

This figure has since climbed to £63,000 and is still going up in the days following her death.

Emily Parsons passed away on May 6 2021, at the Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge.

The 22-year-old had been suffering with an incurable spinal cord tumour called a diffuse midline glioma – a rare type of cancer that affects around 100 people a year in the UK.

Now her mum Lisa, stepdad Paul and younger brother Ben have vowed to keep her JustGiving campaign going to fund research and to pay tribute to her kindness.

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Emily was in her final year at Loughborough University, studying business psychology, when she fell ill.

In April 2020, she noticed unusual ‘pins and needles’ sensations in her hands and feet, which she initially dismissed as being related to exam stress.

But her symptoms worsened and in the autumn an MRI scan revealed a tumour in her spinal cord.

Just five weeks later, more tests showed that Emily had an aggressive form of cancer that was attacking her central nervous system.

At the end of October 2020, she was given only a limited time to live.

In the months that followed, Emily became paralysed due to her medication and had to use a wheelchair.

Paul said: ‘I would come down in the morning to give her breakfast and her medicine and make her comfortable.

‘Looking at her, I would think how scary it must feel to have to depend on others for absolutely everything.

‘She couldn’t even scratch her own nose by then, yet she never once said she was scared or complained.’

But Emily was still determined to use the time she had left to raise money to fund research into her condition.

Her mum Lisa said: ‘Emily was kind. She always worried about other people, not herself. I was astounded and inspired by her strength and her courage.

‘She had grace and dignity which shone out of her and not once did she complain or ask, “Why me?” Instead, she was grateful for the care she was given.’

Despite her deteriorating condition, Emily remained invested in the fundraising. Just before her death, she posted on her JustGiving page, urging others to listen to their bodies. 

She wrote: ‘It took multiple GP appointments across several months before I was finally referred to a specialist.

‘I know that for my cancer, an early diagnosis would have been unlikely to make a difference to my prognosis but for other cancers, it could.

‘We all know our own bodies so, no matter what your age, if something doesn’t feel right don’t delay seeking professional advice and don’t give up until someone listens to you.’

Speaking about her final few months, Lisa said: ‘Together, we all found a way to manage and adapted.

‘When, at the end, Emily could not use her hands, she used voice control on her phone to send messages. We smiled, we laughed, and we had some really good times with her.

‘Two weeks before she died, she and I visited the botanical gardens in Cambridge, because she had never been.

‘She was in a wheelchair and completely paralysed by then and because of her medication, she didn’t look the way she would have wanted to look, but she still posted that photo on social media to keep raising awareness.

‘I thought that was really brave of her. I am so very proud of her, but I miss her, and the hole she has left in our hearts and our lives is immense.’

Now the family are aiming to keep her fundraising page going until the end of 2021, at least, and say it’s giving them a focus during this difficult time 

So far, more than 2,200 people have donated through it and many have left messages for Emily and her family.

All the money raised will go to the research team at Cambridge’s Addenbrookes Hospital.

Emily’s page can be found here:

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