Dad's poignant fundraiser in memory of 'brave' son, 15
- Credit: Supplied by family/EACH
It is every parent's worst nightmare - being told that their child is seriously ill.
But for the Doe family, that is exactly what happened on Christmas Eve in 2018 when they were given a shock diagnosis.
Parents of 13-year-old Callum, Ian and Michelle Doe, were told that their son had an aggressive grade four brain tumour known as a diffuse midline glioma.
He was immediately transferred from the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, where he stayed overnight.
The next day was told he needed to have an operation to remove between 40pc and 60pc of the tumour, which he underwent on December 28.
Biopsy results later confirmed Callum’s diagnosis as incurable and it was decided he would do 13 days of radiotherapy to extend his life expectancy another nine to 12 months.
Callum died in August 2020 at the age of 15.
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Paying tribute to his son, Mr Doe, 51, of Diss, said: “Callum amazed us all with his bravery, strength and positive attitude.”
It was shortly after the teenager’s diagnosis that his parents and sister, Abi, 19, were offered help from East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).
They visited the charity's former Norfolk hospice in Quidenham and were assigned an EACH counsellor.
Then during the summer of 2020, when pandemic restrictions were slightly more relaxed, Callum attended events at The Nook, EACH’s new hospice in Framingham Earl, near Norwich.
The family visited once a week and have been able to look back on their time there with fondness. Stand-out memories include watching Callum play the drums, having his room decorated with characters from his favourite TV show, Benidorm, and meeting Norwich City footballers during a Christmas visit.
Finally, between late July and early August, as his condition worsened, Callum became unable to access the bathroom at home. Visits to The Nook, where he later died, were extremely beneficial during that time.
Since his death, the family still received EACH support through couple’s bereavement counselling and virtual group gatherings with other parents in similar situations.
They have also been involved in fundraising efforts in a bid to “give something back to EACH” for its support, with over £5,000 already raised.
From May 24, a “determined” Mr Doe will be taking on a gruelling four-day ‘West to East’ cycle journey from St Davids, in Wales, to Ness Point, in Lowestoft; a total of 400 miles.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge but I’m excited and looking forward to it,” he said.
“I’ll be part of a small group from Dunx Cycles, in Lowestoft, who have organised the event. It’s a fully supported ride and hopefully there will be lots of time to chat.”
A self-described “keen cyclist”, Mr Doe usually cycles 70 miles in a day but said he has never done anything on this scale before.
He added: “It’s good having something to focus on and I’ve always wanted to do something special for EACH.
“It’s a way of saying thank you for the care and support we received, as a family. EACH was with us every step of the way and they’re still supporting us now.
“EACH did so much for Callum, from the moment he was diagnosed. They gave him so many fun, special moments and he loved being at the hospice. He felt safe there and the team gave him a level of care we couldn’t manage at home.
“The last few weeks of his life were mainly spent there and we’ll never be able to thank the staff enough for the exemplary care and compassion they showed Michelle and myself, as well as our daughter.
“We’re eternally grateful.”
Mrs Doe, 48, previously took on a special fundraising challenge of her own, raising thousands after jogging and walking a virtual 874 miles from Land’s End to John O’ Groats.
- To sponsor Mr Doe, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ian-doe
- For more information about EACH, visit www.each.org.uk or call the office on 01508 500894.
- To pay tribute to a loved one, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- To read more obituaries and tributes join the Facebook group Norfolk's Loved & Lost.