A fundraiser has been launched to help make this Christmas extra special for a Lincolnshire family who have been told that, due to cancer, it will be their last one together.
The appeal is running in aid of Craig Todd, 52, of Spilsby, his wife Maz, 40, both former staff members at Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital, and their family.
It’s absolutely overwhelming what people have done. You can’t put it into words how it feels that they have done this for us. There’s a dark cloud hanging over us and they have just put a silver lining round it.
Craig has been battling cancer since 2016, initially in his bladder, then his pelvis, and now his liver.
In January, he learnt his condition was terminal and has also been told that this Christmas will be his last.
In light of this, friend Hugh Greenaway, a staff nurse at the Pilgrim, launched an online fundraiser to help make the family’s last Christmas together something truly special.
Dubbed ‘Crappy Xmas into Happy Xmas’, it quickly gathered support and within days had smashed the £1,000 target.
At the time of writing, the total on the page stands at £1,758.
“We were absolutely shocked,” said Maz of the response. “We were amazed. We couldn’t believe it.”
Craig and Maz have two young children together, Kieran, eight, and Lady, six, plus two children each from previous relationships – Danielle, 29, and Billie-Jo, 28, for Craig; and Tammy, 24, and Jessica, 20, for Maz.
The couple have seen their life touched heavily by cancer in the past decade.
Craig’s mother Diane, of Skegness, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer last year, aged 73; while his father, Les, died of pancreatic cancer about 10 years ago.
Maz’s father, Mick Bache, of Boston, died of Hodgkin lymphoma in 2016, aged 62.
She also lost her aunt, Ann Hennam, of Spilsby, to cervical cancer in 2012.
The couple have prepared Kieran and Lady for the pain to come (though have spared them the news that this Christmas will be their last together).
“They know that the doctors can’t make Daddy any better and he’s going to go to heaven to look after their granddads,” Maz said.
Craig and Maz are both former health care support workers at the Pilgrim. Craig worked there up until 2016, when he had to step down due to his diagnosis. Maz is now his carer.
Their work situation makes people’s generosity even more meaningful to them.
“The kids can have what they want for Christmas, things we could never have afforded because neither of us are working,” Maz said.
Touchingly, however, Kieran’s first thought on hearing about the fundraiser was for the people who had donated money.
“When I told him people who have raised this money, his first words were ‘can we save some money up so we can treat them as well’,” Maz said.
The couple spoke of their gratitude for all those who have supported the fundraiser.
“It’s absolutely overwhelming what people have done,” Maz said. “You can’t put it into words how it feels that they have done this for us. There’s a dark cloud hanging over us and they have just put a silver lining round it.
Craig said it meant ‘everything’ to him.
“I just can’t get my head round it,” he said. “It’s unbelievable. It was just going to be an average Christmas and now it doesn’t have to be.”
* You can donate to the fundraiser at https://www.paypal.com/pools/c/8a0tf4Y1XV. It ends in four days.