A terminally ill mom-of-two has taken her young daughters prom and wedding dress shopping – because she won’t be around to see their big days.
Dawn Wilson, 34, has been given less than a year to live; while in a cruel twist of fate the girls’ dad, Ian, will also be dead within months as he’s battling the late stages of Huntington’s disease.
Devastated that her children will soon be orphans, Dawn, from Hengoed, South Wales, has gone on “memory days” with Imogen, 12, and Madeline, eight, ticking off the important milestones in the future that she will never get to be a part of.
The couple received Ian’s devastating diagnosis when Dawn, a former teacher, was only 26.
Huntington’s disease is a brain condition that affects movement, judgement and behaviour. The condition gets progressively worse over time.
Six years later, after their marriage had ended, Dawn found a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with grade three breast cancer, which eventually spread to her lymph nodes.
Dawn said: “I know neither of us will ever see our beautiful daughters grow up, so I wanted to create lovely memories of all the things I will miss out on with them.
“I spent a ‘memory day’ with each of them separately where they got to choose the wedding dress they would love, and their prom dresses.
“We even went and chose their first cars and first homes. It was very emotional but I am so glad we did it.
“I am proud of them, they are very special girls and I love them. I hope for the best for them and I’m so sorry I will not be there for them on these days.
“It’s so hard. Nobody imagines they will leave their children before they grow up.
“I want to leave them as much of me and as many beautiful memories of me as I can.
“Their father Ian is very, very ill. The time will come very soon when he can’t recognise our daughters.
“He’s too poorly to take part in any of the fundraising now that he is in the advanced stages.
“We have been given about the same life expectancy which is really anything from a few months to a year. I’m looking at about 11 months.
“The girls have broken down about it all but they really have been fantastic.”
Shortly before her diagnosis in 2014, Dawn had started dating new partner Stephen Wilson, 34, whom she married in 2016.
Steve has now promised to take care of Imogen and Madeline after she’s gone.
Dawn and Ian will sign over parental control so Steve can become their legal guardian. He also has a young daughter of his own, Yvie.
“What hurts the most is that I won’t be there to support the girls when they have to get checked for both the cancer and Huntington’s disease genes,” admitted Dawn.
“When their dad got ill, I told them all they needed to know was that I will always be here to nurse them. But I can’t do that now, and I find it terribly hard.”
She added: “For me, it’s about giving the girls the chance to bond with Steve too.
“He’s relatively new in their life, and I don’t want Steve to be thought of as a step dad – I want him to be thought of as a third parent.
“He’s been absolutely amazing.”
Dawn believed until just over a month ago she was in remission, but the cancer returned.
She had a double mastectomy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and other clinical trials – but then she discovered another lump.
Dawn went straight to the hospital and was told it had returned and is incurable.
Two of Dawn’s close friends, Rebecca Paginton and Marie Sidoli, set up a JustGiving Page with the aim of raising £10,000 to allow the family to help make beautiful memories.
So far it has gathered more than £5,200.
Dawn said that she had been “overwhelmed” by the enormous generosity shown by friends and total strangers.
Despite her horror ordeal, spurred on by the unfaltering support from family and friends, brave Dawn is refusing to give up.
She is using the time she has left to raise awareness of breast cancer and to urge other women not to ignore any abnormal changes.
Dawn said: “I genuinely believe this was completely avoidable because I went to my GP as soon as I found the lump. It was about the size of a pea when I found it.
“After 10 weeks, which is the time I waited to have my scan, it covered a 12cm area.
“Cancer has stolen so much from me and my family, but I am determined to fight for as long as I can.”
To make a donation, visit Dawn’s JustGiving page.
This article first appeared on The Sun.