Mum wants what could be her last Christmas to be magical
- Credit: Archant
A mum-of-four with terminal cancer has been blown away by people’s help to make possibly her last Christmas with her family absolutely magical.
Clare Skinner, from the village of Lawshall near Bury St Edmunds, has been open about her cervical cancer journey, launching a Facebook page that has reached people around the world.
She has urged women to have their smear test – which can help prevent cervical cancer – so “other kids might not have to lose their mums like mine are going to”.
The 32-year-old, whose children are aged three, five, seven and 13, received the devastating news at the end of 2019 that her cancer had returned and she had about 12 to 18 months left.
Clare, an architect by profession who is married to Doug, reached out on social media for festive lights to make her front garden sparkle as it “could potentially be my last Christmas with my family”.
She added: “I'm looking to make it truly magical especially for my children.”
Doug is not working currently and is helping to take care of Clare and the children, so the family have little spare cash.
The Facebook post has had an amazing response, and a friend has also set up a Go Fund Me page for the Skinners to have "the best Christmas this year with loads of great memories" that has smashed its £500 target.
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The family now have lights, enough reindeer for a herd and a snowman amongst their outdoor decorations - a winter wonderland.
Clare said: "I was hoping to find a few cheap pairs of lights to make the really long garden we have sparkle, and there's been an outpouring of kindness and generosity. We're truly humbled to live where we do."
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Cheryl Clark, who launched the Go Fund Me page, said: "Clare is one of the kindest people I know and even going through a difficult time she still makes sure everyone around her is ok."
It is not only making her family's Christmas special that is on Clare's mind, but that of the whole village.
Clare is behind a village Facebook group called 'Once upon a Christmas in Lawshall', which features events like 'build a hamper, win a hamper', a Christmas card exchange and a log slice craft activity where people decorate a slice of a log and return it to the golden woods.
She said: "We would normally do craft activities with our children. I thought 'if it's going to be my last Christmas, have a laugh, get the kids involved in the community and get the community involved as well'. They have had a pretty rubbish year as well."
Despite her terminal diagnosis, Clare keeps going, saying it's a choice of "moping about on the sofa or going and doing something".
She also has four children to keep her busy.
She said: "I was a single parent at a very young age. I had to fight my way to uni and learning to drive. I didn't have much family support.
"I had to be quite proactive and if you want to go somewhere you have to put the effort in."
Clare is not undergoing cancer treatment currently after two scans in the last six months came back 'stable'.
She said she has been lucky to respond so well to treatment, adding: "I'm thinking I'm still going to go strong for a little while yet".
She tells her children that when she passes away she will be waiting on the moon for them, in a nod to Netflix's 'Over the Moon'.
Christmas in the Skinner household
Clare said it is when the children go to bed that she thinks about Doug being left on his own, and how she can prepare to make his life as easy as possible with the house and routines.
Covid-19 has taken away opportunities for big family trips this year - such as that family holiday to Disneyland Paris - but Clare said she has been getting to spend lots of time with her children.
More precious memories will be made this Christmas as the Skinner family continue their tradition of lounging around in their PJs and enjoying a curry.