A couple whose daughter died from a brain tumour took to the airways last week to tell their heartbreaking story.
Kathryn, 41, and Lester Whitby, 43, were left devastated when two-year-old Imogen passed away in January last year – her twin, Angel, was stillborn in 2014.
The Banbury couple spoke about Imogen and her fight as part of Helen & Douglas House’s Radiothon, a three-day radio broadcast fundraising event.
Imogen died at the Churchill Hospital-based hospice in January last year. She bravely battled a brain tumour, never failing to smile as she endured chemotherapy, only for the cancer to return.
“Imogen was a whirlwind of fun who filled the house with playfulness and laughter,” her mum said, adding “she was an utter joy”.
In August 2016, Immy became unwell and wobbly on her feet. A CT scan revealed she had a brain tumour.
“I heard a voice screaming ‘No! No! No! You’ve got it wrong’ and realised it was me,” Kathryn said.
“I asked the doctor if she was going to die. He said he didn’t know, but his eyes said yes. I was her mum – used to making her feel better, but I felt utterly powerless.”
Immy had surgery in September 2016 and the tumour disappeared following subsequent intensive chemotherapy.
But the tot fell unwell over Christmas and, although the tumour had not returned, she had cancer dotted all over her brain and part of her spinal cord. She died less than a month after Christmas 2016.
When they were told Immy had days to live the family moved to Helen & Douglas House.
“I held Immy in my arms and whispered, ‘it’s time to go, baby girl’. Then she died in my arms. It was so peaceful and Immy left this world as she’d come into it – with our love.”
The heartbreaking loss was particularly cruel as, after six years of IVF, Imogen’s twin sister, Angel, passed away at 31 weeks in November 2014.
“No parent should have to see two tiny white coffins in their life time,” Kathryn added.
Moved by Imogen and other poorly children’s touching stories, the third edition of Radiothon raised £69,000, beating the £65,000 achieved last year.
An anonymous donor pledged a further £100,000 so the charity is asking for supporters to match this by 7pm on Friday. Visit hdh.org.uk to make a donation.