Don't let me die, Daddy...

My daughter's plea will never leave me

Published by: Jemma Gillard
Published on: 18 October 2012

Looking down at my watch, I saw it was nearly 4pm. My daughter Eilidh would be back from her school trip soon. She'd only been away a weekend, but I'd missed her like mad.
Eilidh, 14, had jumped at the chance to go on the hiking trip to Aberdeen.
‘Pretty please?' she'd begged. ‘Daddy's already said yes.'
I wasn't surprised. She knew just how to wrap him round
her little finger.
‘Do you ever say no to her?' I teased Gordon, 40.
‘To that angelic face?' he laughed. ‘No way!' But it made me smile
seeing them together. If my youngest two, Hannah, 12, or Lewis, nine, got too noisy, Eilidh and Gordon would go off for a walk.
‘We're escaping the mayhem,' they'd say.
I think that's why Eilidh wanted to go on this school trip. It was her form of escapism, just like reading. Rows of books filled her shelves - her bedroom was like a library.
There was a knock at the door.
‘That'll be Eilidh,' I grinned, but when I opened it, she slumped into the hallway, exhausted.
‘Honey, what's wrong?' I gasped. ‘I fainted, halfway up a hill,' she groaned. ‘The teachers thought I was dehydrated.'
‘Oh, sweetheart,' I sighed, giving her a hug. ‘Why didn't you call me?'
‘It was the end of the day, and we were just about to get back on the bus...'
‘You didn't want your mum making a fuss,' I smiled, kindly. ‘I'll go and run you a warm bath.'
Over the next few days though, Eilidh only seemed to feel worse. ‘Let's get some fresh air,' Gordon suggested, trying to rouse her.
‘I'm too tired, Dad,' she groaned. This wasn't like Eilidh.
Concerned, I took her to the doctors. They sent her for blood tests and then an MRI scan. Me and Gordon were asked to come in for the results.
‘The scan has revealed there's a tumour on Eilidh's ovary,' the doctor explained.
‘C-cancer,' I gulped. ‘Are you sure?' ‘Yes,' he replied.
‘But there's a 90 per cent survival rate with this kind of tumour... I suppose you could say it's a good cancer.'
I took some comfort in his words. But me and Gordon
were still terrified.
‘I'm really sorry,' Eilidh whispered, when we told her.
‘It's not your fault, love,' I gasped, squeezing her tightly.
Two weeks later, Eilidh had an operation at Stirling Royal Infirmary to remove a melon-sized tumour and her left ovary. Afterwards, she needed to have 14 weeks of gruelling chemotherapy.
‘You're so brave,' I told her.
Even when Eilidh's hair started falling out, her smile didn't waver.
‘This scarf looks pretty,' I smiled. ‘I don't need that Mum,' she said. ‘I'm proud of having no hair.' I knew, though, that she was finding it tough. Stuck in hospital, she couldn't do anything or see her friends.
‘Does Mischa miss me?' she kept asking. That was the stray Persian cat she'd convinced us to keep a few years before.
‘She's fine,' I shushed, feeling a pang of sadness.
To make her feel better, we took some books and CDs into hospital. ‘What are you listening to?' Gordon asked.
‘The Fratellis,' she smiled. ‘Wow, you actually have a good taste in music!' he joked. She nudged him in the ribs.
I smiled, but it felt bittersweet. Eilidh's tastes were changing all the time. She was growing up... but she was stuck in hospital, being treated for cancer.
Soon, the doctors said they were happy with how Eilidh was responding to treatment and she was allowed home.
‘We should go on holiday when you feel better,' I suggested one day.
‘Can we go camping?' Eilidh grinned. We'd been camping as a family before and she'd loved every minute.
‘Of course, sweetheart,' I'd grinned. But those plans were soon put on hold...
At Eilidh's next check-up, me and Gordon were called in for another meeting with the doctor. ‘I'm afraid the cancer isn't going away,' he admitted. ‘It's actually growing - fast.'
My world shattered into a million pieces. Beside me,
I heard Gordon gasp. The cancer wasn't going anywhere.
I felt sick as the doctor called Eilidh into his consulting room.
‘The cancer is back,' I said, gently. ‘You're going to need some more chemo.'
Fear filled Eilidh's eyes.
‘Don't let me die, Daddy!' she sobbed, and Gordon pulled her in close.‘I'm going to do all I can,' he whispered, tears streaming down his cheeks.
Before going back into hospital, we decided to take Eilidh away for a few days. Someone we knew recommended Calum's Cabin - a nice, relaxing place on the Isle of Bute.
Eilidh was so tired we mostly stayed inside, but it was nice to just be together as a family.
Almost as soon as we returned home though, Eilidh deteriorated.
‘I'm afraid the cancer has spread,' the doctor told us. ‘It's in her brain. There's nothing more we can do.'
‘It's so unfair,' I sobbed to Gordon. ‘She's not even 16 yet...'
Eilidh had her whole life ahead of her. She wanted to be a vet.
‘But none of those hopes and dreams will come true now,'
I cried, the pain so raw.
Our beautiful daughter had started having frequent fits now, too. Doctors had to put her into an induced coma.
‘I want to move into the hospital with her,' I told Gordon. ‘She needs her family now.'
Me and Gordon took shifts sitting by Eilidh's bedside.
Two weeks later, the doctors
told us they would be taking Eilidh out of the coma.
‘It's time to say your goodbyes,' they explained. As
Eilidh blinked awake and looked around her hospital room, I was sure she thought she was at home.
‘Hello, sweetheart,' I whispered, trying not to cry.
‘I want you to know that I love you with all my heart.'
‘I love you, too,' she smiled, looking at me and Gordon, but she was distant, childlike...
Two days later, she was unconscious again.
At 5.30am the next morning, she slipped away - just nine days before her 16th birthday.
Instead of celebrating, we were burying our daughter. The funeral went by in a blur. But on the day of her 16th, Hannah, Lewis and a group of Eilidh's friends released Chinese lanterns in her memory.
Later, we set up a trust fund in Eilidh's name and started fundraising for a respite house. We wanted to create a home that would welcome families who needed to get away.
Today, three years on, we've raised £157,000, but we've got £100,000 to go. Everything we do is in memory of Eilidh. We'll never forget our beautiful angel.

• To donate to the cause, visit

Nicole Brown, 40, Stirling