The mum of a little girl who died from a brain tumour aged just seven says she lives on through her twin.
Little Claudia Carrick died in July, leaving her mum, Allison, and her twin brother, Robin, devastated.
Claudian loved Disney and enjoyed a princess party in her final days, with a visit from Disney’s Jasmine, Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Toy Story characters.
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She also loved online shopping from her hospital bed – and once ordered £73 of chocolate cake in error to be delivered to the ward.
Mum of two Allison, 40, says: “Claudia was princess mad, she liked dressing up, she was always pleading with me to be allowed to go on a night out in her fancy clothes like a real grown up!
“She was a shopaholic too, she loved ordering stuff online whilst she was stuck in bed. Once she ordered over £70 of chocolate cake by mistake and she and her twin brother ate the lot.
“I have a photo of her surrounded by Amazon boxes in bed.
“Robin and I miss her terribly, every moment of the day. But her smile and her spirit live on in him.”
Allison discovered she was expecting twins at her first scan early in 2013. Claudia and Robin were born two months early, in November 2013, by emergency caesarean.
Allison, from Liverpool, says: “I was a single mum, but my mum and two sisters were at the hospital, waiting for me to give birth. We are such a close family.
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“The twins were in special care because they were premature and Robin was much smaller than Claudia.
“They both made good progress and as they grew up, Claudia was always slightly bigger and stronger, and she was definitely in charge. She would make sure he had his lunchbox and his bag for school.
“She was always up and dressed before him and would then boss him about over breakfast!
“She was like a little mother hen. If anyone was mean to Robin, she made it her business to tell them off. If he ran out of pocket money, she’d give him hers. Their bond went way beyond words.
“Claudia was a typical little girl, she loved Disney princesses and dressing up. She’d spend hours putting my make-up on and clattering round the house in high heels. She used to plead with me to be allowed out in the dark in her dressing up clothes so she could pretend she was ‘a princess on a night out.’
“Both Claudia and Robin had mild autism and if anything, that brought them closer together. They had their own unique greeting where they would raise their hands in a mirror image before hugging.”
Claudia fell ill in January this year with what seemed to be a vomiting bug.
Allison says: “I thought nothing of it. I actually felt relieved that Robin didn’t get the bug too. Claudia told me she felt a bit sad too, which is apparently a symptom of the tumour, but I just put it down to her feeling fed up after Christmas.”
But by February, Claudia was tired and complaining of difficulty swallowing.
Allison says: “She was lisping a little but she’d just lost her two front teeth so that seemed normal. I decided to make a GP appointment, but it didn’t seem serious.”
But before the appointment, Claudia was sent home from school after slurring her words and Alison took her to hospital where she had tests. On February 11, Claudia was diagnosed with an incurable DIPG brain tumour.
Allison says: “I was shell-shocked; I couldn’t take it in. My 40th birthday was three days later. Claudia had planned a surprise party for me, and I couldn’t believe how quickly our lives had fallen apart.
“She was fretting about missing my birthday party and so we held a little celebration in the hospital with treats and a cake.
“She and Robin were separated for three weeks – the longest ever time – and when he was finally allowed to visit, they did their own special greeting, holding their hands up in a mirror image before embracing. It was such a special moment.
“From then, Robin was allowed to visit every day after school. Claudia was in a wheelchair, and she really changed physically with the treatment, but Robin was just thrilled to be with her.
“To keep Claudia distracted we let her order gifts online and each day the deliveries arrived at the hospital. One day, she ordered £73 of chocolate cake by mistake! She and Robin had chocolate round their mouths for the rest of the week.
“She was a little shopaholic; a new doll, a toy car or an aeroplane or craft materials would arrive and I was so grateful for anything that made her smile. Sometimes the hospital bed was covered with glitter!”
Her aunt, Jayne, helped to organise a big party, with a visit from Disney’s Jasmine, Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Toy Story and Cat in the Hat characters. Claudia even enjoyed a horse-ride.
Allison says: “We had been honest with Robin that Claudia would not get better, and he wanted to see her every day. She was in lots of pain, but she still danced in bed, waving her arms above her head.”
Claudia had radiation therapy but it did not work as hoped. She also spent time at Claire House Children’s Hospice. On July 8, she passed away, aged seven, at Alder Hey Children’ Hospital in Liverpool, with her mum by her bedside.
Allison says: “It broke my heart. I had to tell Robin but for him, there was an element of comfort that his twin was no longer suffering. The staff at Alder Hey ICU were all wonderful and I can’t thank them enough.”
At her funeral, her family played Disney songs from Frozen 2 along with a recording of Claudia singing her favourite song: ‘Boomerang.’ Mourners dressed in Disney outfits.
Allison says: “We threw a big kids’ party after the funeral with balloons, a bouncy castle, games and sweets. Claudia would have loved it.
“Robin and I miss her every day, but I know that she lives on through him and I take comfort from that.”