The Girls’ Story
The teenagers met when Rosie went to hospital for a check-up and nurses suggested she went to meet Lauren, who lay desperately ill in bed.
“I will never forget the day we met,” said Rosie’s mother Tina. “Rosie was really well at that point and when we got upstairs we could just see Lauren’s little head and little hands poking out of the top of the bed.”
A mutual love for motorbikes was the beginning of their friendship – with Lauren later describing Rosie as a soul mate.
They would text each other from their hospital beds when they couldn’t sleep in the middle of the night. When they were in hospital at the same time, they spoke using a pair of walkie-talkies, always ending their chats with ‘night mate’ or ‘out’. The girls would support each other through their darkest days – the struggling teenager dropping a hand out of bed and the other holding it, without saying a word. Lauren’s mum Mandy said, “Together they were an amazing combination. Lauren never would have had that relationship with anyone else.”
Tina said the pair “just had this connection that I’ve never seen before.” Once the girls danced through the hospital corridors hand-in-hand and Lauren – sporting a new leather jacket and no hair after treatment – was mistaken for Rosie’s boyfriend, leaving the pair in hysterics, joking about being a couple. Tina said Rosie had a special language with Lauren, “It’s a language that’s non-inclusive, if you haven’t got cancer you can’t come in because you just will not understand it. It was like a gifted way of them helping each other through. Sometimes we would hear them talking, it was a very calming way they spoke.”
They didn’t want to know about each other’s pasts, and they would probably never have met in normal circumstances. It was a huge comfort for the family to see those bonds. Rosie lost seven friends through the course of her treatment, but losing Lauren was the hardest. “They did each other the world of good. I’m glad Rosie had Lauren because it gave her back her friendship with people her own age.” When Lauren died aged 17 in August 2009, Rosie, who had been battling a rare form of bone cancer for years, was furious, telling her mum “it should have been me.” Losing Lauren left a big empty void in her life. She died in January 2010 aged 16.
Their shared experiences also brought Tina and Mandy together, supporting each other through their youngest daughters’ illnesses and deaths, giving them the strength to carry on.
“I couldn’t have done it without Mandy,” said Tina. “To talk to another mum was amazing.
“I was meant to meet Mandy, we were able to relate to each other and share what we were experiencing. If you were having a bad day the other person would know and understand.”
Mandy said, “I couldn’t have done it without Tina – seeing her strength to keep going for so long gave me the hope to hang on in there.”
Keen to keep the girls spirit alive and ensure other teenagers get the outstanding treatment their daughters had, LARF was formed.