Man behind video of daughters singing to dying mother talks about wife
Widower shares heartbreaking footage of his eight-year-old twin daughters singing a Kylie song to their dying mother, 39, a day before she passed away from a brain tumour
- Lee Cripps, 39, from Berkshire shared video of twins, 8, singing to dying mother
- Twins sang Kylie Minogue’s song Dancing to Alex who had a brain tumour
- Singer has tweeted her condolences after seeing the touching footage
- After diagnosis in 2014, teaching assistant Alex set herself goals to achieve
- Lee is sharing his story for start of Brain Tumour Awareness Month (BTAM) today
A heartbreaking video of twin girls singing to their dying mother the day before she passed away has touched hearts around the world.
Earlier this week Lee Cripps, 39, from Berkshire took to Twitter to share a video of eight-year-old Sophie and Lauren singing Kylie Minogue’s son Dancing to his wife, Alex, who passed away at home after battling a brain tumour.
It has been viewed more than 46,000 times and won praise from the singer herself who said she was ‘touched’ by the footage.
Mother-of-two Alex was diagnosed in 2013 and passed away at home in January 2019 with Lee holding her hand.
Both girls read out moving tributes to Alex at her funeral with Lauren saying she was ‘lucky that God gave the very best Mummy that has ever lived’, while Lauren recalled her ‘gentle and kind’ mother and eating Maltesers together.
Since her death Lee has made a vow to help their adored girls ‘live life to the full’ in the way his ‘soulmate’ would want him to. He is sharing his story to mark the beginning of Brain Tumour Awareness Month (BTAM) today.
Lauren and Sophie Cripps from Berkshire giving their mother Alex a kiss during a photoshoot taken 12 days before her death January. Alex Cripps died of a brain tumour on 10th January 2019
People from all over the world sent Lauren (left) and Sophie toys and mementoes since hearing of their mother’s death. Lee said he was really touched by people’s kindness
Kylie Minogue saw Lee’s video and replied to him with a sweet message of encouragement, sending him her love
Alex died from brain cancer on 10th January, the day after Lee filmed the poignant moment with her girls.
He posted the video online as he wanted Kylie Minogue to know how much her music meant to their family.
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‘Really want @KylieMinogue to see this, to see how much her music means to us as a family and I would love for our girls to meet her. Please RT in the hope it reaches her,’ he wrote.
He was amazed when the star replied, saying: ‘Lee, thank you for sharing this tender moment of your girls singing to Alex.
Lee, Sophie, Lauren and Alex taking a picture with Pluto during a Disney trip. The family wanted to create memories before the mother passed away
Lee, Lauren and Sophie in London. Lee says his daughter have kept him going since Alex’s death and that she still inspires him to live his life to the fullest
‘I’m so touched, and so very sorry for your loss. Sending you and your girls lots of love.’
Lee and Alex were Kylie fans and saw her live five times. They had bought tickets to see her perform at Blenheim Palace this summer.
The couple met through work at a Marks & Spencer store when Alex, then 18, was on a gap year and Lee was a 17-year-old in his last year at school.
They got married on 20 September 2003 and their happiness was sealed when Alex gave birth to their twin daughters in December 2010.
Lauren (left) and Sophie has babies. The brave girls read their own tribute to their ‘gentle’ mother during her funeral in January 2019
‘We both longed for children as we came from close families ourselves and wanted to give that same love and support to our own family,’ said Lee.
‘Lauren is a mini-me in looks and Sophie a mini-Alex. She was a brilliant mum and absolutely adored the girls.
‘I had several nicknames for her like AliBali and Babe, but her favourite title was Mummy.’
When the twins were three, Alex started suffering headaches and fatigue, but put it down to her hectic life.
Sophie (left) and Lauren hugging Mickey Mouse. The two girls went viral when their father shared a video of the pair singing Kylie Minogue’s Dancing to their mother the day before her death
Alex with Sophie on a trip to Devon. Lee said that while he had several pet names for his wife, her favourite title was ‘Mummy’
But when the headaches became daily and then she couldn’t write properly any more, she saw a GP who referred her to a neurologist.
She was booked for an ‘urgent’ MRI scan in nine-and-half weeks’ time.
‘But we didn’t wait for that appointment as Alex’s headaches got worse and worse,’ said Lee.
‘One evening, I said “enough is enough” and took her to A&E at our local hospital,’ said Lee.
Lauren (left) and Sophie holding toys they received from well-wishers after the video went viral
On 13 September 2013, Alex and Lee renewed their vows for their 10th anniversary, five months before her brain cancer was diagnosed
Alex fell unconscious overnight and she had a CT scan, which revealed a tumour as big as a tangerine.
Alex was blue-lighted from Royal Reading Berkshire to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
Alex had a five-hour emergency operation to remove as much of the tumour as possible.
She was put in an induced coma for three days before more surgery to further debulk the tumour.
Lauren’s tribute to Alex at her funeral
‘Hello, my name is Lauren and I wanted to talk about my Mummy.
‘I love Mummy because she was so gentle and kind. She means the world to me and she was always there to tuck me in and say good night.
‘I enjoyed going on holidays with Mummy. I always loved going to Devon with Nanny and Grandad and Mummy never missed going to the beach and having ice-cream.
‘I also enjoyed going on a family holiday with Mummy and Daddy to Holland with my cousins.
‘I loved playing games with Mummy and doing crosswords. At bedtime, we would sometimes make stories up of faraway lands with Pixies, Fairies and Mermaids.
‘Mummy was always telling us to tidy our room and was always helpful. I gave Mummy extra big cuddles all the time. I used to love sharing my Maltesers with Mummy.
‘Mummy was always very proud of me when I came home with new certificates and had good reports at parents evening.
‘On Mummy’s birthday, all of the family would sit around the table singing, eating and drinking.
‘Mummy loved having sofa cuddles with a blanket with her two favourite girls whilst Strictly Come Dancing or Dancing on Ice was on TV.
‘I really enjoyed going into to Thatcham with Mummy for Hot Chocolate and Biscuits at Costa. Mummy would always have a Cappuccino with Chocolate Sprinkles!
‘I am so so lucky that God gave the very best Mummy that has ever lived! I loved my Mummy and I know you all love her too!’
Biopsy results revealed it was a grade three (cancerous) anaplastic astrocytoma.
Alex had three more brain surgeries, six weeks of combined chemotherapy and radiotherapy and several courses of chemotherapy in monthly cycles.
‘Our world was turned upside down,’ said Lee.
‘From the moment Alex was diagnosed in February 2014, we decided to do everything to help raise awareness about brain tumours.’
They set up the Alex Cripps Fund with The Brain Tumour Charity which has raised over £20,500. And Alex set herself three goals to meet before she died: to see her girls start school, finish her Open University social sciences degree and celebrate her 40th birthday last August.
Sophie’s tribute to Alex at her funeral
‘Hello, My name is Sophie and I wanted to tell you about my Mummy.
‘I love my Mummy because if we were sad or hurt she would come to help and give special magic mummy rubs.
‘We loved to go on holiday with Mummy and when we were on holiday she made us laugh and smile.
‘I loved spending time with her. I loved doing crosswords with her and reading to her in the morning before school. Mummy would always listen carefully to my reading and then say nice things in my reading record.
‘She loved spending time with Lauren and me. We laughed and played with mummy and she was so good at hugs and kisses. Mummy and I loved Maltesers, they were her favourite chocolate treat.
‘When we were on holiday we wouldn’t miss an ice cream especially in Devon with Nanny and Grandad and she never missed a trip to the beach.
‘My Mummy is the best in the world and she always will be! Love you Mummy!’
‘In typical Alex fashion, she achieved all three,’ said Lee.
‘I’ll never forget how proud she looked as we took the twins for their first day at school, she passed her degree with honours and had her 40th birthday with us.’
Alex’s quarterly scan in April 2018 showed her tumour had grown and she had to have another operation.
Biopsy results revealed her tumour had changed into a grade 4 glioblastoma – the most aggressive form of brain cancer.
Lee describes Alex as his soulmate. The pair met when they were 18 and 17 years old and got married on 20 September 2003
Alex and Lee dancing with Lauren and Sophie on 20 September 2013 when the couple renewed their wedding vows
Alex shortly after the birth of her twin daughters Lauren and Sophie in December 2010. The trio was very close and both girls read heartbreaking tributes during their mother’s funeral in January 2019
When the twins were three, Alex started suffering headaches and fatigue, but put it down to her hectic life. The fmaily took a photoshoot 12 days before Alex’s passing
‘We’d always known it was “when” not “if” Alex’s tumour came back,’ said Lee.
‘I thought of it as a dormant volcano.’
Lee and Alex were honest with the girls about Alex’s illness.
WHAT IS A GLIOBLASTOMA?
Glioblastomas are the most common cancerous brain tumours in adults.
They are fast growing and likely to spread.
Glioblastomas’ cause is unknown but may be related to a sufferer’s genes if mutations result in cells growing uncontrollably, forming a tumour.
Treatment is usually surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible, followed by a combination of radio- and chemotherapy (chemoradiation).
It can be difficult to remove all of the growth as glioblastomas have tendrils that extend to other regions of the brain. These are targeted via chemoradiation.
Glioblastomas are often resistant to treatment as they are usually made up of different types of cells. Therefore, medication will kill off some cells and not others.
The average survival time is between 12 and 18 months.
Only 20 per cent of patients live longer than a year and just three per cent survive over three years.
Source: The Brain Tumour Charity
‘Their questions were: “Why Mummy? Why cancer? Why can’t doctors fix Mummy?”,’ said Lee.
‘If children ask questions, you’ve got to give answers in an age-appropriate way.
Alex died five years after diagnosis – double the time doctors thought she had.
‘Towards the end we had to tell them Mummy wasn’t going to get better and then in the last few days that Mummy was dying,’ Lee said.
‘They’d ask me what would happen if she died while they were at school and I promised them I’d come and get them as soon as I could.
‘And after Alex slipped away with me holding her hand, I went to get the girls while my mum brushed Alex’s hair and sprayed her favourite perfume.
‘Fifteen minutes after she died, they were home to cuddle her and say their goodbyes.’
Lee asked Alex what she wanted for her funeral and he carried out her wishes to the last detail, including a pink coffin with a white daisy chain.
‘I’m grateful for every second we spent together, every memory made and, most of all, for our girls,’ said Lee.
‘They keep me going and Alex’s spirit lives on in them – I see so much of her in them.
‘Both girls have her happy, caring nature and Sophie loves to write lists, just like her mum did.
‘Now her spirit and strength still inspire me every day. When asked if she had down days, Alex’s response was, ‘I don’t have time for down days.’
‘We talk about her all the time and the girls say, ‘Mummy still lives in our hearts.”
Alex holding Lauren (left) and Sophie as babies. The twins were born in 2011. Lee and Alex always wanted a family of their own
Alex photgraphed in 2013, before the got her brain tumour diagnosis. When the twins were three, Alex started suffering headaches and fatigue, but put it down to her hectic life
Alex’s final gift was to donate her brain for research.
‘She wanted to help give hope to others in the future,’ said Lee.
‘I never thought I’d be a widower before 40, but I want to bring something positive out of Alex’s death by continuing to raise awareness and funds for The Brain Tumour Charity in her memory.
Facts on brain tumours
- Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under 40.
- Over 11,400 people are diagnosed each year with a primary brain tumour, including 500 children and young people – that’s 31 people every day.
- Over 5,000 people lose their lives to a brain tumour each year.
- Brain tumours reduce life expectancy by on average 20 years – the highest of any cancer.
- Just 19% of adults survive for five years after diagnosis.
- Brain tumours are the largest cause of preventable or treatable blindness in children. Childhood brain tumour survivors are 10 times more likely to suffer long term disability than well children. This accounts for 20,000 additional disabled life years for all the children who are diagnosed each year.
- Research offers the only real hope of dramatic improvements in the management and treatment of brain tumours. Over £500m is spent on cancer research in the UK every year, yet less than 2% is spent on brain tumours.
Source: The Brain Tumour Charity
‘If I can help save just one family our heartache, it’s worth it.’
Since Alex died, Sophie and Lauren have received ‘happiness packages’ from all over the world from kind well-wishers to put a smile on their faces.
It started when someone from a forum car enthusiast Lee is on, sent them cuddly kiwi soft toys from New Zealand.
‘So far the girls have received toys and mementoes from the States, Australia, France, Spain, Romania, Germany, Switzerland and from all over the UK, too,’ said Lee, a technical service manager for a Telecoms company.
‘We’re so touched by people’s thoughtfulness.’
Sarah Lindsell, The Brain Tumour Charity’s chief executive, said: ‘Our hearts go out to Lee, Sophie and Lauren for losing Alex to this devastating disease – brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and under-40s in the UK.
‘We are so grateful that the family have raised over £20,500 for us – a testament to how loved Alex was – as research into brain tumours is woefully under-funded.
‘And we are very grateful that Lee is sharing their story during Brain Tumour Awareness Month to support our Big Bandana Bake campaign to raise money and awareness as we move closer towards the goals of our research strategy, A Cure Can’t Wait, to double survival in 10 years and halve the harm brain tumours have on quality of life.’
Click here for more information on the Big Bandana Bake
Click here if you would like to make a donation to the Alex Cripps Fund
Read more in Lee’s blog Life After Mummy: ·
Find out more at thebraintumourcharity.org
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