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How friendship has helped me through losing my husband and daughter to leukaemia

The Bloodwise logo. Bloodwise appears in black text against a white background
Posted by
24 Jul 2019

Lindsay’s husband, John, died of leukaemia in 1992. Lindsay was left to raise their four-year-old daughter, Ellie, alone. And just five years later, Ellie died from the same type of blood cancer.

Here Lindsay reflects on how the invaluable support she received from friends helped her and her younger daughter, Hope, survive this double tragedy

Lindsay and Hope

There isn’t a day, an hour, or a minute that I don’t think of John and Ellie

It’s been 21 years since my daughter Ellie died from leukaemia and nearly three decades since the same cruel disease took her and Hope’s father, John.

Blood cancer steals young parents from their children and sometimes – with almost unimaginable cruelty – a beautiful young child from her already grieving family.

John died at age 35; Ellie died five years later at age nine. Our sole surviving child, Hope, now 26, was born after her father’s death and had just started school when her beloved sister died.

John and Ellie pictured on holiday

We couldn’t have survived without an army of casserole-making, baby-minding, dog-sitting, fundraising mates

The catastrophic effects of blood cancer have been a constant thread, not only through our lives, but of the lives of a loyal troop family and friends. How else could we have survived this double tragedy without a huge unsung army of casserole-making, baby-minding, dog-sitting, fundraising mates? That Hope and I have had any sort of a normal life, let alone one with any joy or pleasure, is entirely down to them.

Zoe, Hope’s cousin, volunteered to be Hope’s big sister when Ellie died. And Alastair Campbell, John’s best friend since the days we all met as trainee journalists, became her honorary godfather. After John died, Alastair and his partner insisted we join them on their family holidays.

Lindsay and Hope on holiday with Alastair and family

In 2003, Alastair ran the London Marathon to raise money for Bloodwise. Afterwards, when we all went on holiday to Mallorca, Alastair (then 45) was so stiff and achy after his sub-four hour effort that he found it hard to play football with the kids on the beach. His huge efforts over the years have raised over £1 million to fund research which will prevent other families suffering such loss.

Hope told me that watching Alastair convinced her to one day do the same. She did so in April, with Zoe by her side every step of the way. She smashed her target of £3,000 – in fact, she raised over £8,000.

The friends who stood by our family mean everything

Whenever I would hit refresh on Hope’s JustGiving page, the familiar list of names scrolls in front of me. Blood cancer also steals school friends, work colleagues, neighbours, nieces and grandchildren. The losses of our family, hard as they were to bear, were also born by all the people who have stood by our beleaguered little family willing us to keep going, and donating and fundraising in the hopes that one day no family will have to suffer this way.

Watch our video of Lindsay and Hope to hear more of their story

Hope pictured outdoors

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