Moving account of daughter’s death to inspire support for hospital campaign.

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A BARNSTAPLE mother who lost her 14-year-old daughter to cancer has written a moving account of her grief.

Barbara Bidgood’s daughter Catherine is thought to have been one of the first patients to receive chemotherapy treatment at North Devon District Hospital after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in August 1980.

She underwent three courses of treatment to help battle the aggressive form of blood cancer but died on the Caroline Thorpe Children’s Ward just seven weeks and three days later on October 5.

Some 30 years on, Barbara, 81, hopes her poignant essay about the experience will give comfort to others and help galvanise support for the hospital’s Chemotherapy Appeal.

Mum-of-three Barbara, from Roundswell, said: “I’ve never written anything like this before. I believe I’m distantly related to H G Wells on my mother’s side but this all started with Catherine, who started to keep a journal about what was happening to her and how she was feeling.

“I picked up threads of that as I thought what she went through was an important story to tell.

“A lot of people who have read it have said it helped them and put their own worries into perspective.

“I feel it’s better that it’s down on paper now, rather than in my head.”

Barbara and her husband Bernard, 85, intend to make a donation to the Chemotherapy Appeal but hope their story will inspire others to add their support to the campaign to build a new treatment centre and day unit at their local hospital.

“Catherine was one of the first, if not the first, to be treated with chemotherapy on this ward,” said Barbara, who worked on the hospital’s Petter Ward for nearly a decade.

“I’m right behind the Chemotherapy Appeal – the new unit is going to be an absolutely fantastic resource for North Devon.

“Catherine was given treatment at Barnstaple because the onset of her condition was so quick, but it’d be nice to think that a new unit could mean people do not have to travel to Exeter for treatment.

“If I could inspire people to make a donation in Catherine’s memory I’d be very pleased.”

Barbara has kindly offered Gazette readers the chance to read the article she has written about her daughter’s death. It will be available to read at our offices in Old Station Road, Barnstaple in return for a small donation to the Chemotherapy Appeal. Please ask Nicola or Sue on reception for details.

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