Posted on Monday 30 May 2022

Jan’s Story “My daughter Alayna was my best friend, I will have no-one like her as a best friend again.”

In March 2018, life completely changed for Jan and Aub Morris from Newport, Isle of Wight. Their 17-year-old daughter Alayna had seemed in good health, but after a trip to A&E she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumour – diffuse midline glioma (DIPG).

Alayna was first seen in A&E in St. Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight, which was where the family were told she had a brain tumour. Alayna was taken by air ambulance to Southampton Hospital whilst the family travelled to the mainland on the Redjet (catamaran to get to Southampton).

Jan said: “I remember sitting on the Redjet thinking all these people are just going on with their normal lives and my daughter has got a brain tumour.”

Within five days of arriving at Southampton General Hospital, Alayna had an operation to remove as much of the brain tumour as possible. About a month after the operation, the doctors told the family that it wasn’t good news, the brain tumour was cancerous and it’s terminal. Jan said the news was too hard to take in and she said to husband Aub a few days later – “’they can treat her though can’t they?’ and he said ‘no they can’t’, my brain just didn’t want to hear that.”

As a result of the brain tumour, Alayna felt anxious, she had problematic sight issues, she lost her confidence in going out, and she also suffered hallucinations. Alayna finished her chemotherapy in the middle of June and went straight to the Isle of Wight Festival and managed three days there, which was very impressive!

During Alayna’s treatment, her family was able to stay in the Young Lives vs Cancer Home from Home in Southampton which was initially CLIC Haven and then the new home which is Jean’s House later on in the year.

Jan said: “ It was a “home from home” we could have people visit, we sat in the garden, we fed the birds, it was nice to do normal stuff, not having to travel every day, it was just so helpful, we had our own room for six weeks, we could leave our stuff there.

“We could use the kitchen, which really helped with saving costs as I wasn’t working, friends would bring food over, I had my car so could go to the supermarket. I remember meeting Kate, the charity social worker in CLIC Haven, she helped me with Disability Living Allowance forms to help financially.”

Jan said: “We spent that summer making as many memories as possible. We didn’t know how long Alayna had.”

In September, Alayna started having worse health issues linked to the brain tumour with swallowing and balance but, despite this, Alayna was still able to travel around, enjoy meeting friends in Wiltshire, laughing and joking.

On the 23 October, Alayna went to the Teenage and Young Adult Ward at Southampton Hospital and sadly didn’t come home. Even in the last few weeks Alayna kept her sense of humour and made the doctors laugh! Alayna died on 14 November 2018, three months after her 18th Birthday.

Jan said about her daughter Alayna: “Everyone loved her, she was lovely, funny, always smiling, had a great sense of humour and made everyone laugh. Alayna was my best friend, I will have no one like her as a best friend again.

“Alayna’s life had such an impact, with people I know saying they were going to give up work as this just shows you that life is too short, she was an inspiration, she did so much in her last few months, it’s really lovely to tell her story.

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