A brave Leighton Buzzard daughter is fundraising to help cover funeral costs, after her mother died unexpectedly in her sleep.
Victoria Milhamke, 21, is hoping the community can support her GoFundMe webpage in memory of her late mother, Andrea Milhamke, who died aged 51 on October 14.
On the weekend of October 5, Andrea had complained of severe pain in her left shoulder, which had been put down to soft tissue inflammation.
Despite leaving her “screaming in pain” on several occasions, it had appeared to be on the mend. But then last Monday morning, tragedy struck.
Victoria remembers: “Mum had a GP appointment, but no-one could get hold of her. I was trying, her best friend was trying, her GP was trying, her partner was trying.
“So I called the ambulance and they said they’d ring when they were there.
“Then when I was at work I got a phone call from a police officer. I just knew at that moment...”
Heartbroken, Victoria had to identify her mother’s body, before Luton and Dunstable Hospital could begin tests to find out the cause of death.
Victoria said: “I broke down in the middle of the office and one of the managers drove me home. I was just in pure shock. It didn’t properly hit me.
“Mum had passed away in her bed and I had to go upstairs and identify her. She just looked like she was sleeping. It wasn’t nice. I had to step out at that point.”
Victoria added: “I know Mum, she wouldn’t want me to dwell on it. We’re trying to sort out her funeral and I want everyone to be colourful.
“Mum was always wearing colour - for example, red shoes and a green top. Everything was colourful in her wardrobe.”
Andrea was well-known and loved in the Leighton-Linslade community, having worked as a receptionist for VOSA (at the MOT test centre on Commerce Way, as a receptionist at Leighton Road Surgery and in customer services at Tesco, Vimy Road.
She had since gone into catering, and was also known for riding a big blue trike around town, and having a passion for sailing.
Victoria said: “Mum thought she had pulled something at work, as she has to carry heavy trays. She felt a pop in her shoulder.
“Then on Sunday [October 6] she went to the sailing club, pulling boats in and out.
“She had to go to A&E with soft tissue inflammation and was given Co-codamol.”
However, the pain worsened and paramedics had to be called out to Andrea and Victoria’s house later on the Sunday, and on the Monday.
Victoria and her mum’s best friend Sally Adams rallied round to look after her during the week, because Andrea was given a GP prescription of the painkiller Naproxen, leaving her feeling unwell due to the side effects, which also caused blurred vision.
The swelling from her shoulder spread to the chest and neck and she was unable to move properly or swallow food.
However, the Naproxen seemed to help and before her death Andrea had stopped taking it, reporting better arm and leg movements.
Victoria said: “But just over a week later when we finally believed she was getting better, she passed away.
“She never had any heart problems, lung problems. Nothing. It’s horrible and we’re waiting to find out what happened.”
Victoria is now focussing on remembering the happy times, such as her mother’s love for travel, gardening, and animals.
The Milhamke family used to run a pet shop in Bonn, Germany, and moved to the UK 15 years ago. They had lived in Leighton Buzzard for eight years.
Victoria’s parents separated, but her father Thomas has been coming up from London every day to help, and his family in Swisttal, Germany, have been sending their love and support to their Leighton Buzzard relative.
Victoria said: “I didn’t realise how many people she touched, people from the surgery, Tesco, VOSA, people I went to school with. I was shocked when I thought someone could impact so many lives.
“She was always so cheery and would say ‘hi’ to everyone. I have had so many lovely messages from people.”
With Andrea’s death unexpected, Victoria has launched a GoFundMe page for a target of £10,000 to help cover funeral costs and give her mum a “good send off”.
She has been amazed by people’s generosity and wishes to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far, taking its total to £1,333 in a matter of days.
Victoria would also like to thank her boyfriend Faz Feroze, 29, who has been a huge support and had the idea for the campaign.
A post mortem is currently being carried out and no funeral date has been arranged yet.