Parents' loving tribute to daughter

LOVING parents last night paid heartfelt tribute to their cherished daughter who has lost her courageous fight with cancer.

Craig Robinson

LOVING parents last night paid heartfelt tribute to their cherished daughter who has lost her courageous fight with cancer.

Melissa Jane Bridges was just 29-years-old when she passed away on January 15 at St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich following a brave battle against a brain tumour.

Last night her parents, Peter and Susan, of Easton, near Framlingham, praised her bravery and said she would be sadly missed by all who knew her.

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Melissa, who lived at Griffin Wharf in Ipswich with her partner Mark, was diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2008.

The former Thomas Mills High School pupil, who worked for Cephas Care, was taken to Ipswich Hospital after suffering two seizures.

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An MRI scan revealed she had a brain tumour and she was referred to Addenbrooke's in Cambridge.

Although surgeons were able to remove the growth, further treatment - including radiotherapy and a course of tablet form chemotherapy - was not successful.

In July last year doctors gave her as little as two weeks to live but Melissa, who had a passion for arts and crafts, bravely defied the odds.

She fought on until after Christmas and was able to spend the holiday season with her family, which was includes sister Anthea, 33, and nephew and niece Haydn, 10, and Imogen, four.

Mr Bridges, 59, said: “She was very independent, even towards the end - to the point where she could be quite stubborn.

“She was a very caring person and had an infectious smile. She always had a twinkle in her eyes. Right from the day she was born.”

Mrs Bridges, 54, added: “Melissa was incredibly brave. She never gave up.

“Even in September - when she knew there was no more treatment - she was still planning ahead, asking her sister what they were going to be doing at Christmas and for their birthdays.”

Mr and Mrs Bridges said they would like to thank everyone who had been supportive during and after Melissa's illness.

They are especially grateful to St Elizabeth Hospice, which has been an incredible source of comfort.

“Being 29 she didn't really want to go into the hospice,” Mrs Bridges said. “I think she thought it was more for older people. However, they offered her day care and after the first time she didn't want to stop.

“She was able to carry on with her creative crafts and they also cut her hair and did her fingernails. If another young person is in her situation I would say don't worry, go and visit.”

Mr Bridges added: “I can't speak highly enough of the staff. Originally, Melissa was going in once a week for day care but at the beginning of the year they noticed she wasn't walking well and they asked her to stay overnight. That turned into 10 days and that's when she passed away.

“It is a wonderful place. Its not like a hospital - it is a lot more one to one and there is a completely different atmosphere.”

Mr and Mrs Bridges said they would also like to thank the Willow Foundation, a charity that provides special memories for those aged 16-40 who are seriously ill.

The organisation paid for a trip to London for the family where they were able to visit the Rainforest Cafe and take in a West End Show - much to Melissa's delight.

“She had been there before but wanted to go again - I think she just wanted to show us how amazing it was,” Mrs Bridges said. “We have been overwhelmed by the number of cards and messages of support we have received. It shows just how many lives Melissa touched. She will be remembered fondly and very sadly missed.”

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