Chloe's story

For a young child to have a parent diagnosed with cancer is very hard; to have both parents diagnosed is truly terrible. For young Chloe however worse was yet to come, as first her mother died, then less than two years later her father also lost his battle against this cruel disease and she was left orphaned at the age of only 11.

Chloe's mother's best friend, Diana, and her husband became Chloe's legal guardians, although they were also coming to terms with the death, again through cancer, of Diana's own mother, just days before Chloe's father passed away. As Diana has two daughters of her own (aged 15 and 11) the family of four became a family of five, all struggling to come to terms with what they had been through and looking to start rebuilding their shattered lives.

Being an 11 year old girl growing up and moving on to secondary school is tough enough. Losing both parents, coping with the terrible grief and anger engendered by such loss, and integrating into a new family at that age, is unimaginably hard. For Chloe and for her new family it has been a tremendous struggle at times. 4 Cancer became aware of Chloe and Diana and her family through a friend who nominated them for a respite experience. She said, "Diana in particular is an amazing woman. She never complains and is always positive, seeing very small steps forward as a great achievement. I have nothing but great admiration for her! Her husband is incredibly supportive; a calm, steady rock. The girls are also incredibly patient and have welcomed Chloe into their home and their family. Chloe has been incredibly brave and strong throughout, and although I suspect she is in terrible turmoil she rarely shows it. Obviously the children are all learning to deal with some very grown up emotions at a very young age. Because of the parents' illnesses none of them have been able to really have a holiday for several years. I feel they all really deserve something good to look forward to." We at 4 Cancer agreed wholeheartedly and offered them a respite trip.

Centre Parcs Village, Longleat

Diana and her family chose a break at Center Parcs during the summer half term, selecting a village fairly local to where they live to minimise the time spent travelling and maximise time spent enjoying themselves - which they did! The family tried all sorts from the watersports to the spa facilities, and also enjoyed cycling around the park on the bikes they'd hired.

Commenting on the watersports, Diana enthused, "The instructors were great - encouraging and good fun. Wet suits were provided... and hot chocolate afterwards." Of the overall experience she commented, "The staff were helpful and polite, the accommodation clean and in a good location. The children loved the wildlife and its proximity to us. The pool was also a real bonus. The spa was a great opportunity to spend quality time with an exam weary teenager, plus there were lots of different spa experiences to try so it was interesting as well as relaxing."

Centre Parcs Village, Longleat

Diana sums up their holiday: "The short break to Centre Parks provided for us by 4 Cancer was ideal for us; not too much packing or preparation and it was only a short distance from home. It is sometimes difficult for us to take time out from busy work/home lives and we forget that, although we are still in the process of recovery, we have come so far - and we are actually doing okay. It was wonderful to watch the girls paddle-boarding on the lake together and hear them laugh, it was such a bonding and exhilarating experience. I must admit I had a lump in my throat when I thought how proud Chloe's parents would have been of her, enjoying life to the full and so up for a challenge. Thank you for giving us this opportunity."

This is a true story but the names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals concerned

© 4 Cancer Group 2017