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When Emily Feduchin-Pate’s son Atticus was diagnosed with an incurable brain tumour this summer, her husband Blaze, 42, looked after their two-year-old-daughter, at home in Whitchurch, while she spent her time at Atticus’s bedside in a London hospital.
It could have been the loneliest time. But 38-year-old Emily found support in her work colleague Georgia. “She saved me,” says Emily, who works as an in-house lawyer for an insurance company. “Georgia gave up her time to sit with me and keep me company whilst I was living on the ward. She brought me puzzle books, snacks, DVDs. She brought my son games and toys, anything to cheer him up.”
The pair would laugh, they’d cry, and out of something terrible, something beautiful blossomed: friendship.
The pair had always been friendly at work; they’d chat in the office or nip out for coffee together, and Emily would often lend an ear to 26-year-old Georgia’s problems. When Georgia received a Whatsapp message from Emily one day saying her son had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour, she was shocked – and told her boss she was going to the hospital.
“It’s the worst thing anyone could ever go through,” says Georgia. “If you could take away that pain a tiny bit, then why wouldn’t you?”
Georgia, a syndicate claims executive based in London, says she couldn’t bear the thought of Emily going through the ordeal alone: “There was one night when I didn’t go to the hospital with her and it was the worst night because all I did was panic.”
When Emily had Georgia sitting with her in the hospital, it no longer felt such an isolating experience. “We had wine and goodies. We watched trash TV, sang crap songs, we cried, we laughed. It wasn’t all doom and gloom,” says Georgia.
The 26-year-old was also a huge comfort to Atticus. He’d met Georgia a couple of times before his diagnosis, which meant he was comfortable being around her.
“She sat and played with him, entertained him tirelessly when I needed a break,” says Emily. “If he wanted something in particular to eat she would run out and fetch it - for a child on steroids with an insatiable hunger that meant a lot.
“My son had an obsession with Weetabix so she came to the hospital one day with a laminated story she wrote for him called ‘Weetabix Boy’, full of photos of him, just to make him laugh.”
The book was all about a boy called Atticus who was also a super hero. Of course, Atticus thought it was the best thing ever.
Georgia has also worked tirelessly to organise the four-year-old some free trips to Lapland and LegoLand, via the Make A Wish charity. “He deserves the world right now,” she adds.
Once a month she will go and spend some time with the family in their Whitchurch home. Emily explains: “She gives up weekends to spend time with our son and daughter, looking after them in the mornings so we can have a lie in and a break. Georgia has been our saviour in what has been a desperate and heartbreaking year.”
For Georgia, it’s well worth the trip: “They’re really fun, it’s not hard work at all. It’s like going to a home away from home - just getting to spend time with him is really important.”
For more information about brain tumours or to donate money to research in this area, please visit The Brain Tumour Charity website.
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