The Melissa Crouch Fund

Raising funds for The Brain Tumour Charity in memory of Melissa.

Melissa's story

Melissa was a gorgeous girl, beautiful on the inside and out. She was full of life and personality. Melissa was funny and very mischievous. She was a very loving and caring child that could melt your heart, she had no idea how stunning she was.

Melissa loved to dance and along with her sisters and cousins they loved putting on a show when we were at Grandmas for tea. Melissa was a hip hop dancer and cartwheeled everywhere, she couldn't stand still when music was on had had natural rhythm. She loved school and always came home with stories about the laughs she had with her friends. Melissa loved going on family holidays and cruises.

The triggers

One weekend at the end of November 2012 Melissa started dipping her head and looking out the top of her eyes. The following Saturday we took her to the opticians where they told us she had developed a slight squint and they would refer us to the ophthalmology department at the Victoria Hospital. We were given an appointment at the end of January but the squint started to get worse quite quickly so I took Melissa to see our GP who got the appointment brought forward to the 10 January, by this time I had noticed a change in Melissa's speech and a slight change in her personality.

On 10 January 2013 we went from Ophthalmology to the children's ward where Melissa was taken for an MRI. My worst fears were recognised when the results came back and we were told that Melissa and a brain tumour and we were referred to The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. Melissa was put on a course of steroids in the meantime.

The diagnosis

On 14 January 2013 our world was shattered with the devastating news that Melissa's tumour was called DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) it was situated in the brain stem and affects all of the major organs, there was no cure, it was terminal, at best we could hope for 6 to 9 months.

I cannot begin to explain how horrific it is to be told that you are going to lose your child and there is nothing you can do to change it, there are no words to describe the pain.

Melissa started a 6 week course of radiotherapy followed by a course of oral chemotherapy. We were told that this would buy us time. We were terrified, our hearts had been broken and our lives changed forever. All we wanted to do was to hold her in our arms and hug her forever to keep her safe but the last thing we wanted was for Melissa to be scared so to protect Melissa in the only way we could we chose not to tell Melissa that her tumour was terminal. We had no choice but to paint smiles on our faces and treasure every moment we had left with our precious girl.

Melissa didn't let her illness rule her life, she was truly inspirational, she took it all in her stride and never complained. What was left of our broken hearts burst with pride over how brave she was. At the end of Radiotherapy we took Melissa to Cyprus to celebrate her 10th and last birthday. The effects of radiotherapy were amazing and we went on a trip to Disneyland Paris in July where Melissa was racing her sisters to get to places. We took in the sights of London in August and managed to persuade a very nervous consultant to let us take her on a Mediterranean cruise in September. We packed in as many days out as we could. Melissa went to school on days she felt like it but her and I spent most of our time with Grandma. We became experts in hiding our living grief and fear of the inevitable, walking out of one room crying and back into whatever room Melissa was in with a smile on our face.

On 5th November 2013 we took Melissa to sick kids for another MRI as she had lost some of the power down one side of her body and was suffering from a headache. We were given the news we were dreading, the tumour was growing rapidly and it was unlikely that she would be with us at Christmas.

We had been advised of a clinical trial being run in Bristol where they hoped to deliver a chemo drug direct to the tumour using minute catheters. We had thought long and hard about it over the summer and what was best for Melissa. There was nothing else available and we so desperately wanted to try and keep Melissa with us for as long as we could. We would never forgive ourselves if we hadn't tried to save her. Sadly the treatment she received in December didn't work as we hoped it may.

On 1 February 2014 at home with her family we lost the bravest, funniest, most beautiful caring little girl to the horror that is cancer.

We have no idea how we will continue without Melissa and I cannot begin to put in to words how much we love her, miss her, long to have her with us.

We came across many worthwhile charities along our journey and I knew I wanted to do something in memory of Melissa as she would want to help others. I can't change the living nightmare that has happened to us so I wish that no other family has to go through what we are going through and that is why I chose to set up The Melissa Crouch Fund within The Brain Tumour Charity to raise money for crucial research into paediatric brain tumours.

I cannot thank you enough for supporting our cause we really do appreciate it.

Shirley, Mark, Megan and Emma xxx