Mum dies after going through ‘absolute hell’ of losing her daughter

A family has suffered another heartbreak after a mum who lost her eight-year-old daughter died.

Alice Holton, 31, who has been described as “positive and bubbly”, passed away on October 19 after battling cancer for a year.

The tragedy came after her eight-year-old daughter Ella Dee died in 2017 whilst waiting for a second donor heart, TeessideLive reports.

Alice also lost both of her parents as a child and was “dealt the worst cards in life but took on every single hurdle”, her best friend Annalee Dee said.

Mum-of-two Alice, from Middlesbrough, showed “unbelievable strength” despite going through “absolute hell”.

Alice has left behind her childhood sweetheart Darren Dee and daughter Evie, aged five.

Ella Dee was waiting for a second donor heart when she died
Ella Dee was waiting for a second donor heart when she died ( Image: MDM)

Annalee, also Alice’s sister-in-law, paid tribute to her “stunning and incredible” friend.

Speaking about Alice, she said: “She just bossed it and had a craic about things.

“She had absolutely zero filter and just said it how it is. Honestly, she was unbelievable.

“She was such a proud person and just stunning.”

Alice – who was a carer, a job which she “loved” and “gave her a purpose” – enjoyed going to play bingo, going out for a “few drinks” and eating out with Darren – especially a cheese platter.

She also enjoyed trips to Great Ayton and The Almighty Cod, in Seaton Carew, for fish and chips.

Alice was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, last year, and underwent chemotherapy at James Cook University Hospital.

Alice leaves behind her childhood sweetheart Darren and their daughter Evie
Alice leaves behind her childhood sweetheart Darren and daughter Evie ( Image: Evening Gazette)

However, she was given a second devastating blow when doctors revealed the disease had spread to her brain.

Determined to beat the illness, Alice then began “aggressive radiotherapy”, only to be told, “there was nothing else they could do”.

Annalee, 31, explained how Alice “found a lump” in her breast in February, last year, but as the Covid pandemic gripped the country “she couldn’t get an appointment”.

She then spoke to doctors in October, last year, where a biopsy was taken and Alice received the devastating breast cancer diagnosis.

“Straight away she knew something wasn’t right,” Annalee said.

Alice then underwent four weeks of chemotherapy then a mastectomy on May 20.

However, just one week later, she collapsed and suffered headaches and sickness.

Ella Dee was diagnosed with a major heart defect while she was still in the womb

Ella Dee was diagnosed with a major heart defect while she was still in the womb ( Image: MDM)

She was rushed into the hospital and told cancer had “spread to her brain”.

Doctors offered her “aggressive radiotherapy” but the treatment was then stopped as she faced the heart-breaking reality that there was “nothing else they could do”.

Alice was told she may only have a “few weeks” to live in June but remained “so positive” and battled through a further five months.

In August, Alice started to decline but remained at home until after her 31st birthday which she celebrated with a takeaway and gifts.

Alice then went to Teesside Hospice “to get on top of her pain medication” but quickly became “settled” after being cared for by the “absolute diamond” staff.

She was also supported by Darren, sister-in-law Annelee and Gemma Knight, best friend Kayleigh McGee – as well as a number of other close friends.

The brave mum even made sure she was present on her daughter’s fifth birthday on October 18 – the day before she passed away.

Alice kissing Ella in hospital as she waited for a second heart donor
Alice kissing Ella in hospital as she waited for a second donor heart ( Image: evening gazette).

The family had a tea party at Alice’s bedside on Sunday, October 17 to celebrate Evie’s birthday.

The following day, Alice said: “Happy birthday babe”, to her youngest daughter before she sadly passed away on October 19 with Darren by her side.

“She pushed herself until after Evie’s birthday,” Annelee said.

“She didn’t want to go on her birthday. She was just so strong. My heart breaks talking about it.

“It has been nothing but heartache.”

Annalee, who was best friends with Alice throughout their time at Acklam Grange School, described how Alice remained positive throughout her life despite a number of setbacks.

Alice tragically lost both her parents at a young age and was fostered when she was in secondary school.

Ella died in the arms of Alice and Darren
Ella died in the arms of Alice and Darren ( Image: Evening Gazette)

“She’s not had the best life growing up,” Annalee said.

“She was so positive though, she was the one who kept us all sane. She was so bubbly, bouncy and energetic.

“Just so positive. She went through hell and was just such a lovely person.

“She was dealt the worst cards in life but took on every single hurdle.”

Alice and her partner Darren bravely shared their story after their first child Ella passed away in 2017.

Ella Dee was diagnosed with a major heart defect while she was still in the womb and underwent major heart surgery.

A decision was made to put Ella onto the NHS Organ Donor Register and after a donor heart was finally found the operation took place in May 2015.

However, the family were then told Ella needed a second replacement heart after her body rejected her first.

Ella tragically died in August 2017.

Annalee said: “Ella got to ride a bike, bounce on a trampoline – everything she wanted to do.

“It was just torture. We got it [the heart] but then it was just taken away again. Darren and Alice went through so much heartache.

“She was eight years old, it isn’t right.”

Darren and five-year-old Evie have suffered the loss of Ella and now Alice.

Annalee added: “Evie is the absolute model of Ella, she is the image of her. Ella adored her, she couldn’t wait for a little sister.

“Evie talks about her all the time. It’s so beautiful.”

Following Ella’s death, the family found it “hard living without her” but remained “so strong and took every day as it came”.

“Alice went through hell, grieving for her daughter but she made every day special for Evie,” Annalee said.

She paid tribute on behalf of Darren who is heartbroken at the loss of his partner.

The pair have been together 16 years from when they met in school at 15-years-old.

“Alice was his world,” Annalee added.

“I can’t imagine what he is going through. His sisters are doing everything possible to help. He just needs support now.”

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