A 14-year-old girl whose best friend helped to raise £300,000 to fund life-saving cancer treatment has died from a rare form of the disease.
Teenager Lily Wythe was only diagnosed five months ago with the deadliest type of childhood cancer.
Her heartbroken family announced that she sadly lost her battle with the condition yesterday morning.
The tragic news comes just a few weeks after her best pal, Lillie Cotgrove, 13, helped to raise an incredible £230,000 in just seven days towards a fund to pay for crucial treatment in the US for Lily.
But schoolgirl Lily, from Benfleet, Essex, had an inoperable brain tumour and died before she was able to travel to America for the experimental medical care.
Lily Wythe, 14, had an inoperable brain tumour and was hoping to travel to the US for experimental treatment
Lillie Cotgrove (right) managed to raise thousands of pounds to help her friend Lily Wythe travel to America
Celebrities including Rachel Riley, Steven Gerrard, Jonathan Ross and Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen joined the grassroots campaign to raise money for Lily.
Her devastated mother, Diana Wythe, 40, announced the news on a Facebook page dedicated to Lily’s battle.
In a heartfelt statement, she said: ‘It’s with the heaviest of hearts we announce the passing of our beautiful brave Lily.
‘On Thursday Lily suffered a huge seizure, she was ventilated and we were transferred to Addenbrooks Paediatric Intensive Care Unit.
‘She fought long and hard all day Saturday into this morning. We are utterly heartbroken but we couldn’t be prouder of our girl.
‘Fly high beautiful, cancer free and forever 14 years old.’
Lily was diagnosed with a high-grade diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) in October last year.
Lillie was ‘devastated’ to learn Lily’s cancer could prove to be fatal within 12 months of diagnosis.
But Lily’s parents found new hope when they found out about ‘promising’ clinical trials for their daughter’s cancerous brain tumour in Seattle, USA.
However they also learned they’d need a huge £300,000 to pay for the treatment.
Lillie Cotgrove (right) with her friend Lily Wythe. Lily died from brain cancer before she was able to go to the US for treatment
Lily Wythe pictured (above) in hospital. Celebrities including Rachel Riley, Steven Gerrard, Jonathan Ross and Game of Thrones’ Alfie Allen joined the campaign to raise money for Lily
WHAT IS A DIFFUSE INTRINSIC PONTINE GLIOMA?
A diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is the second most common type of high-grade brain tumour to affect children.
The cancers begin in a part of the brain stem called the pons, which is responsible for vital functions such as breathing, sleeping and blood pressure.
Because the tumours grow in such a sensitive and important area of the brain it is too dangerous to operate on them, so they are considered incurable.
Most diagnoses occur in children between the ages of five and 10.
The cause of the tumour remains unknown, but more than 90 per cent of patients are thought to die within 18 months of diagnosis.
Each year, there are around 100 to 150 new diagnoses in the US and between 20 and 30 in the UK.
Symptoms include lack of facial control, double vision, headaches, vomiting, weakness, seizures and balance problems.
One of the early indicators of the cancer is a child falling, tripping or losing balance.
Source: The Brain Tumour Charity
Lillie was determined to do what she could to help her friend and so set up a fundraising page, The One Pound Warriors.
The page asked for a voluntary £1 donation from all its members and received a host of celebrity endorsements including Jonathan Ross, Rachel Riley, and Gemma Collins.
The Facebook page was set up by Lillie and her mum Sarah on January 16 and its 134,000 members managed to raise £230,000 in just seven days.
This total was added to £78,000 raised by a separate GoFundMe page, which was set up nine weeks ago in November 2019.
Lily’s condition took a turn for the worst last Thursday when she suffered a seizure and was rushed to Addenbrooke’s paediatric intensive care unit in Cambridge. She died there just two days later.
Sarah Cotgrove, who set up One Pound Warriors on behalf of her daughter Lillie, said: ‘To say we have been astounded by the response and outpouring of love since we launched our page would be an understatement.
‘We have had donations of pension money and pocket money, people writing songs, painting pictures, baking cakes and everything in between.
‘Lily knew she was going to Seattle and that gave her so much positivity. We all need some time, we need to cry and shout and turn to each other.
A Facebook page was set up by Lillie Cotgrove (right) and her mum Sarah and its 134,000 members managed to raise £230,000 in just seven days
Lily Wythe’s devastated mother, Diana Wythe, 40, announced the news of her daughter’s death on a Facebook page dedicated to her battle
‘Life is so unfair we need to scream. I would ask everyone who has supported us so far to please pray for Lily’s family and hold them close in their thoughts.’
Hugh Adams, spokesman for Brain Tumour Research, which worked with the family to raise awareness of their campaign, added: ‘We are devastated to hear the news that Lily Wythe has died.
‘We know that Lily and her family drew great comfort from the enormous outpouring of love which followed an appeal, set up by her friend Lillie Cotgrove, to raise the £300,000 they needed for a possible clinical trial in Seattle.
‘We cannot let this situation continue to happen. Families simply should not be placed in the hideous situation of having to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds, and seek treatment abroad.
‘Lily’s tragic story spurs us on to work ever more resolutely to raise funds for research and to campaign for the government and the larger cancer charities to invest more and work with us to make a difference.’