Chloe Alexandra McNeil
Chloe, our only child, had just turned 11 when she was diagnosed on 3rd September 2010 with a Diffuse Pontine Glioma, a tumour in her brain stem. The centre of our lives Chloe was a typical 'girlie' girl, her favourite colour was of course pink and she loved anything that sparkled! A keen gymnast she spent hours training with her club Irvine bay Gymnastics. She loved fashion, art, reading, cows and her dog TJ.
We had just returned from our family holiday in Florida when Chloe fell ill. Over a period of just a few weeks she became very sick. Suffering from dizziness, double vision, headaches and vomiting most mornings, we grew increasingly concerned. After several visits to our GP Chloe was referred to Crosshouse Hospital for further investigation. Six weeks after our dream holiday an MRI scan detected a brain tumour.
Chloe had just celebrated her 11th birthday the previous day and had a huge Hawaiian themed birthday party planned for the following day! The party went ahead with Chloe unaware of the diagnosis and was a great success in her eyes. This was the start of ensuring Chloe lived her life to the full.
To be told your child has a 'terminal illness', and that the 'median survival rate is 9 months' is too shocking to take in. From this point on, we only had one goal. To save Chloe. We searched the internet for causes, cures, treatments and had second opinions from the UK and abroad. Tragically, there was absolutely nothing that could be done.
Chloe was immediately started on a multitude of medication including anti-sickness medication as well as steroids to reduce the swelling around the tumour. She then had radiotherapy every day for 6 weeks. Watching her go through the procedure was the worst feeling ever but she didn’t complain once and the staff at the Beatson thought she was amazing.
Having just started primary 7 at Annick Primary School (Irvine) Chloe attended as regularly as she could. She continued to live her life and over the next few months, we had some magical holidays and special days out.
As the disease progressed Chloe had to be prescribed more and more steroids. Her headaches and double vision worsened and she was definitely weaker than she once was. She was also being sick more and more frequently and had little appetite resulting in a lot of weight loss. However she hid it well and was determined not to let her illness hold her back. Chloe always looked fantastic and even managed to participate in activities including kayaking!
Our last holiday in York was fantastic and Chloe was able to walk round the shops and museums as well as survive the York dungeons! Unusually she even developed an appetite and wasn’t sick once the entire week.
Unfortunately the day after we returned home Chloe became very unwell. That night we were admitted to hospital and Chloe had her first seizure. After a series of seizures a further MRI revealed the brain stem glioma was stable however four new tumours believed to be on the meninges (the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord) were discovered. Sadly these too were inoperable and 3 weeks later, on 16th June 2011 Chloe slipped away.
She died in our arms surrounded by her close family. The battle was never hers to be won and her loss has left behind so much pain. There is a 'Chloe' shaped hole in our hearts that will never be filled, she was and is our everything.
Chloe's positive attitude and graceful acceptance of her illness has touched and inspired many people and as her parents, we are exceptionally proud of her.
Mark & Elaine McNeil