Beth loved to make a cup of tea. Her little toy tea set was used on many occasions to entertain her guests and family. Perhaps no surprise as she was born of an English father and a Canadian mother on the 16th of May 2006. Beth was born on time in the Rotunda hospital and was home within 24 hours. It didn’t take her long to run the household: Daddy was moved into the spare room; Mummy couldn’t leave the room; and Harry was her personal servant and entertainer.
By the mature age of one, Beth was a world traveller. She started small with a holiday in Waterford with friends from Sheffield where at only a few months old, she received three marriage proposals. A trip to the UK at Christmas saw her visiting her extended family – and as the first female grandchild received much attention and spoiling. Beth then visited Disneyland Paris on a trip with some friends from Cambridge. Whilst Harry enjoyed the rides she was satisfied with a stuffed Dalmatian puppy, reflecting her love and curiosity about animals.
Beth also had a Nana and a LOT of aunts, uncles, cousins in Canada and was introduced to all of them in a road trip across three provinces that summer. This ended with a visit to her uncle’s home in Alberta where she got to travel on a speedboat, play with puppies, and swim outdoors.
Normal life returned when she was back at home for a month, occasionally joining Harry at his play school where she thought she was one of the big kids. Unfortunately this came to an end during October when Beth started to get very sick and uncomfortable. It was the second of November when the family received the devastating news that Beth had a rare and aggressive type of leukaemia.
This marked the start of a brave battle against cancer lasting nine months; seven of which were spent living full time in hospital with her mother Kim. During this time, Beth received four intensive rounds of chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant with a donation from Harry, approximately eighty blood and platelet transfusions, and also suffered from a serious liver infection. She also almost died twice.
Such was Beth’s personality however, that even during this most desperate time she was able to bring fun and laughter to those around her. Beth’s vocabulary increased rapidly with new words like “blood” and “chemo” and she was able to assist the nurses with the routines of taking her blood pressure and temperature, and with the cleaning of her dressings. Her favourite comforter at this time was an antiseptic wipe rather than a teddy. Father Christmas visited her in the ward and despite being afraid of him, she knew enough to stick her hand out for a present. Beth was in St John’s Ward in Crumlin for so long that many of the staff became her extended family and as families do, they threw a party for her second birthday. As this was at the end of her bone marrow transplant, several rules were bent in order to let her brother Harry attend – a real bonus as she had been in total isolation for a month.
Beth came home to Summerhill and spent a month of happy days playing with Harry and her parents, taking pleasure in her toys and exploring the space of the house. The cancer came back very suddenly and only a short week later she died. Even then there were happy moments – the morning of her death she received a visit from a tiny pot bellied piglet called Vincent, and then later, with her pain managed with skilful help from the Meath palliative care team and St John’s staff, Beth made her daddy a cup of tea.
Beth only lived for two years and dying so young is very unfair, but she had a good life with a lot of laughter and love. She enjoyed her time here and touched the lives of many people around her. We hope all who knew her will cherish their memories of her.
Read about our Hospice Heros David and his family, who helped make LauraLynn a reality after the death of Beth; here