Lily Wythe, the 14-year-old girl who went viral in her fight against brain cancer, has sadly died.
Lily was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour last September (2019).
A campaign was set up by her best friend at school, also called Lillie, and her parents called One Pound Warriors in an attempt to raise money to get Lily to the US for potentially life-saving treatment.
They reached their £300,000 target back in January, but sadly this morning Lily’s parent’s announced that the teen had passed away.
Lily, who was from Eastwood, Southend-on-Sea, was on holiday with her family last summer when she started getting headaches, but no one thought too much of it.
It was when she developed a slur and started to become wobbly that her mum, Diane, 40, knew that something wasn’t right.
Weeks went by with no answers, with suggestions of an ear ache and hormones, but then Diane demanded an MRI.
The scan led to Lily being diagnosed with diffuse pontine glioma H3 K27MK, formerly DIPG, an aggressive malignant brainstem tumour which attacks the central nervous system.
It affects sight, hearing, speech, swallow, breathing and heart rate.
Speaking previously with Essex Live, Diane explained: “She just started to have headaches and saying she felt sick but then she started to lose balance and her voice started to slur.”
“I just thought it was a typical teenager thing and it might be her age. I would say ‘oh stop eating rubbish’ but then when she started to slur and lose her balance and we went straight to an out-of-hours doctor.”
“It was absolutely awful. They took us into a room and told us that was what she had. I didn’t expect that. I expected they would say something else, like an infection or something, not cancer.
“How do you tell your 13-year-old? I don’t really remember much of what was said but obviously we went in the room and told her straight away.
“It feels like a million years ago. It’s something you never imagine. She was very shocked and upset but we are very positive about it.”
It was not possible to remove Lily’s tumour. It could be treated with radiotherapy, but sadly within six to nine months the tumour would almost always return which is why her family wanted to send her to the US for drug trials.
In the last few months of Lily’s life, her illness started to really take its toll.
She had begun struggling to walk and had to use a walker to support her.
Diane said: “It’s very difficult to be 14, as a teenager and want to be out with friends. Having to walk with a frame is not ideal, there’s a massive change of appearance for her too to deal with.”
Lily’s family were supposed to go on holiday in December, but they were unable to because of how poorly she was.
“Our beautiful, brave Lily”
Lily’s parents announced the devastating news of her death early this morning on Facebook.
They described Lily as “beautiful and brave”, adding that they are “utterly heartbroken”.
The post reads: “It’s with the heaviest of hearts we announce the passing of our beautiful brave Lily.
“On Thursday 13th Feb Lily suffered a huge seizure, she was ventilated and we were transferred to Addenbrooks Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
“On Friday she was removed from breathing apparatus and seemed to be doing well.
“During the evening she struggled to breathe alone, she also had regular intervals where she was unresponsive and continued to have seizures.
“She fought long and hard all day Saturday into this morning.
“We are utterly heartbroken but we couldn’t be prouder of our girl. Fly high beautiful, cancer free and forever 14 years old.”
Tributes to Lily have covered the gates of Lily’s school, Eastwood Academy today.
Yellow balloons, bunting and flowers have all been laid in memory of the much-loved teen.
Lily’s One Pound Warriors
When the One Pound Warriors was created it went viral after several celebrity endorsements.
Jonathan Ross, Rachel Riley and Keith Lemon were among those to support the campaign on social media.
A GoFundMe page was created to help people donate to Lily’s treatment.
The campaign was shared all over social media and gained a lot of support.
On January 23, it was revealed that they had reached their target of £300,000.
Plans were underway to get Lily to the US for the trials.
On Wednesday (February 12), a video of Lily celebrating was posted in the One Pound Warriors Facebook group informing her supporters that she needed to stay stabilised before she could fly to Seattle.
This was not something offered in the UK, but a hospital in Germany had agreed to stabilise her before she went for the trials.
Today the group has been flooded with tributes to Lily, including images of sunflowers – the symbol used for her campaign.
Sarah Anne Cotgrove, who has been at the front of the campaign with her daughter Lillie led the tributes.
She posted: “This is a post I desperately never wanted to write and didn’t think I would have to.
“To everyone reading this, to all our warriors, you have all been absolutely incredible.
“You’ve inspired each other with selfless acts of kindness and generosity and brought communities together.
“From pocket money to pension money you’ve all helped. From writing songs to painting pictures to baking cakes, and everything in between.
“Lily knew she was going to Seattle. You gave her positivity. What you will never know is just how much that means.
“We all need some time. We all need to cry and shout and turn to each other. Life is so unfair we need to scream. We need to try to explain it to our children.
“But mostly we just want to take all of that love and passion and kindness and direct it at that beautiful family whether that is praying, or holding them close in our thoughts.”