December 12 2013 Latest news:
Lizzie Parry and Matt Bunn
Friday, September 6, 2013
It is something no mother should have to face – buying cards to mark her son’s birthdays that she will never see.
For Dawn Garrett, though, it is her painful reality.
The 37-year-old has been given just months to live after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer – but the brave mother has refused to slow down.
Instead she has thrown her efforts into courageously preparing nine-year-old Ashton for life after her death, while also raising thousands of pounds for the hospital staff who have cared for her.
“Buying cards for Ashton is so difficult – but I need to do it,” she said.
Miss Garrett’s diagnosis came after a myriad of health problems, including Crohn’s disease, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, lupus, a condition which sees the body’s immune system attack healthy tissue, and vasculitis, which causes inflammation which in turn destroys blood vessels.
Four years ago doctors told Miss Garrett, of Titan Court, Ipswich, she would have to have her bowel removed. The prognosis came a year after she lost part of her lung to her vasculitis.
“A routine check for my Crohn’s revealed cells which could turn cancerous,” she told The Star.
“I faced the difficult decision of whether to have my bowel removed and a colostomy bag fitted. I took a while to decide what to do, and maybe I left it too long.”
In December 2009 Miss Garrett’s bowel was removed and the following summer, after insisting with doctors that she have a scan, the results looked clear.
“I was on cloud nine,” she said. “It was a great feeling.”
But two days later she received devastating news.
“I had a call from my doctor,” the highways secretary at Suffolk County Council added. “They said it was urgent.
“I went back and they told me they had found a 5cm lesion. It was awful, I was on such a high and then my world came crashing down around me – I had cancer.”
The cancer spread quickly to her liver and in September 2010 Miss Garrett was back in the operating theatre having part of the organ removed.
Then came chemotherapy – but despite the gruelling rounds of treatment, she was adamant she would continue working and going about her life as usual.
“I was determined to keep on as normal,” she said. “But in 2011 I was told it had spread to my lymphnodes in my abdomen. When that happens, there is almost nothing that can be done.
“I just went downhill from there. My other lung was affected and now it is back in my liver. It has been a nightmare.”
In early July Miss Garrett was told she had between two and six months to live.
While preparing her son for life after her death – and coming to terms herself with her condition – she also set above raising money for the Woolverstone Wish appeal as a thank you for the treatment she has received during her cancer fight.
Miss Garrett said: “I have passed the two months mark and I don’t think you can ever get your head around that.
“I have been on a real high though recently. The whole family and I went to Paris and then I held my fundraiser for the Woolverstone Wish.
“My family and friends have been amazing, work have been fantastic and Ashton’s school, Springfield Junior, as well. I am so grateful.
“The doctors and staff on the chemotherapy ward are incredible, that’s why I wanted to raise money for them.
“And St Elizabeth Hospice are also wonderful. I have planned my funeral with their help, and the staff have been helping Ashton too, through art and music therapy.
“I have bought cards for all the birthdays I will miss and have to face creating a memory box for my son.
“It is so hard to do but I need to know it is done for him. It is going to be a difficult time now but we are taking each day as it comes.”
Selfless mum raises thousands to help other cancer patients
Showing incredible selflessness, Dawn was determined to say thank you.
The 37-year-old has raised nearly £3,000 for the Woolverstone Wish fund. The charity aims to raise £800,000 to help refurbish the chemotherapy wards at Ipswich Hospital.
In the latest of a series of charity nights, Dawn held an event at Westgate Ward Social Club. A raffle with more than 100 prizes, donated by individuals and local businesses, helped raise £1,385.
She said: “It was something that I needed to do. The staff do their utmost and they always have time for you. I have never been able to fault them, never – they have been absolutely fantastic.
“They (staff at the Woolverstone Wing) have done enough so for me it is time to pay them back.”
Money is still being raised for the cause and photographer Ian Heffer, who took pictures on the night, is donating the cash he gets for his images to the fund. To view the photos, visit www.heffsphotography.co.uk
To donate to the Woolverstone Wish appeal visit the Woolverstone Wish website