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You can make a difference this Christmas

Christmas is usually a time when parents spend quality time with their children, eating mince pies, watching festive films and leaving a carrot out for Rudolph. But for some young families this Christmas, days are consumed with hospital visits, medication and even loss.

Christmas in the Abbott household was always a time of excitement and family.

Alice would help the children, Ralph and Winnie, write their letters to Santa. She would shop for the perfect Christmas tree and spend days decorating the house she shared with her husband, Mark. She loved everything about Christmas. It was her favourite time of year.

Alice was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer during the pandemic, shortly after Winnie was born. After finding some redness and swelling in her breast, Alice was given a telephone consultation and antibiotics for mastitis but pushed for further investigation. That is when she was diagnosed with a rare form of inflammatory breast cancer. It had already spread to her lymph nodes, liver and bones, meaning she was stage 4 on diagnosis. “The thing that upset her most was that she wasn’t going see the kids grow up. That’s what she kept telling people.” Mark shared.

Alice was referred to Willow by her medical team in December 2021. She loved animals and the outdoors, having grown up in the countryside. Our Special Day team suggested a break at Port Lympne as it seemed like the perfect fit for the animal-mad family.

Tragically, the trip became their last family holiday. In June 2022, at the age of 35, Alice passed away at home surrounded by her family and loved ones.

As Christmas approaches, Mark is making plans, but it’s bittersweet. “Christmas is always going to be hard as Alice loved it so much. The house always looked amazing and she was happiest when she was bringing people together. She is a hard act to follow. I see her everywhere at Christmas.”

Will you donate what you can this Christmas and help more young families like Alice and Mark’s have a Special Day?

Reflecting on their Special Break, Mark said “It could not have come at a better time. I was caring for Alice and two small children while trying to hold down a full-time job.

“Claire in the Special Days team created the perfect break for us in a Tiger Lodge. We fed giraffes, went on a jeep safari and watched the tigers right outside our window. No detail was missed. She even considered accessibility as Alice was in a wheelchair by that point, making it harder to get around.”

Mark often looks through photos and videos of the break with Ralph and Winnie: ” They love The Tiger Who Came to Tea and now I can say to them ‘you met a tiger’. We’ll always have that as our last family holiday. And to have it be such a special one is really good. It meant so much to us all.”

Your support has had a lasting impact on Mark and the children. The memories created during that special trip serve as a source of comfort and joy. “To have photos of them doing things with mummy is really important, especially Winnie as she was only two, so I’m not sure what her memory of it is going to be like. It was a really, really special thing that you don’t get to do very often, and something we wouldn’t have been able to do financially without your support.”

Alice and Mark’s story is a poignant reminder of how important your support really is. The impact extends far beyond a single event; it touches the lives of entire families, leaving a legacy of hope, love, and precious memories.

Donations over the years have allowed us to provide for 20,000 beneficiaries since founded in 1999, allowing young families to break away from the daily challenges that come with serious illness.

Your gift this Christmas will help more young families spend time away from the day-to-day stresses that serious illness brings.

Thank you so much. We couldn’t do it without you.