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Lower Darwen mum Samantha Allan on life after Maddi
Madison Allan was the little girl who captured the hearts of people in East Lancashire. They raised thousands of pounds as she spent most of her young life battling a rare tumour. Sadly Madison died on Boxing Day 2011, aged seven. Speaking for the first time about life after Maddi, mum Samantha tells Simone O’Kane she is determined to help other parents going through similar heartache
NEXT month Madison Allan would have celebrated her ninth birthday. To mark the occasion mum Samantha, dad Mark and little sister Scarlett will go to Frankie and Benny’s for a birthday meal.
“Maddi is still my daughter and every year we will celebrate her birthday at her favourite place to eat,” said Samantha.
“As a mum I scrutinised everything after her death because you don’t know whether you are making the right choices.
“For me the days get harder and time isn’t really healing. In fact it gets worse as I think about what she’d be doing now, what stage would she be at, or what would she look like. That’s difficult.
“I still sign birthday cards and Christmas cards from the whole family, Madison’s name goes on everything, she is the daughter that I gave birth to. Last year I put a Santa Stop Here sign on her grave and people thought I was crazy.”
And Samantha, 37, is determined to try and help other parents going through the torment of coping with a desperately ill child.
She and Mark have set up a charity - Maddi’s Butterflies - to raise awareness of neuroblastoma, the disease from which Maddi suffered Samantha said: “I remember when Maddi was sent a full suitcase of clothes from a charity when she was ill. She hadn’t been herself and was really withdrawn but when they arrived she was over the moon. I will never forget that smile.
“I work really hard with the charity, I am tired and I never stop. I can be sat in bed at 3am and be constantly looking online. But it pays off because it makes me happy we can fulfil the wishes of other children and offer respite providing the family with a place to go.”
Recently Maddi’s Butterflies made a donation to the Sam Shaw Appeal to help the little boy from Hoddlesden go to Peppa Pig World before he underwent stem cell treatment.
In her short life Maddi defied medical opinion several times.
When Samantha had her 20-week scan and discovered that she was expecting a girl, she was also told there was a chance her daughter would be brain-damaged and was advised to have an abortion.
But with husband Mark, the couple who have been together for 22 years, were determined not to give up on the child that they had longed for.
“Despite having an amniocentesis and various tests and even being told to abort, I just knew the baby would be fine and she was, she was born absolutely perfect,” said Samantha. “She was such a good baby, she was beautiful.”
But on Wednesday, July 20, 2005, Mark and Samantha were given the news that changed their lives forever.
Madison, who was just 10 months old, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, an aggressive cancer that had wrapped around her nervous system and main blood vessels.
“It was just devastating, she was in and out of hospital for chemotherapy sessions, it was awful,” said Samantha who lives in Lower Darwen.
Thanks to the treatment, and Maddi’s fighting spirit, the tumour then lay dormant for four years and in February 2009 Samantha had a second daughter, Scarlett.
“I wanted another baby and I thought to myself ‘Maddi has been fine for the past four years, she will be all right’,” Samantha recalled.
“Maddi was so excited to be a big sister and helped me looking after Scarlett, but a few months later she was in pain and I knew she wasn’t well again.”
From this point on Madison was in and out of hospital, but when she was well enough still attended Lower Darwen Primary.
After nearly six years battling the tumour Madison wasn’t responding to treatment and doctors advised Samantha to give up, “The consultant told us to just go home and bide our time and enjoy the last moments with our daughter. It was horrendous. I thought that she had been through so much already, I didn’t want to just give up. I couldn’t.”
That’s when the the family started to raise £250,000 to enable Madison to fly to Germany for pioneering therapy.
Throughout it all Samantha carried on working . “Some parents when their child gets cancer they just stop,” she said.
“I didn’t want to do that. When she was ill I was always there and took time off, when she was OK, I sent her to school, she was such a clever little girl and thrived off learning.
“If I didn’t have Scarlett then I probably wouldn’t have got through it, I think things happen for a reason. If I hadn’t had her to look after, then I really don’t think I would be here.
“As a mum, I have been through the worst pain imaginable, but it was Madison who was the bravest one out of us all.”
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