A Leighton Buzzard mum lost her 11-year-old son to brain cancer, only to be told weeks later she was dying of the disease herself.
But brave Julie Tipler refuses to be beaten by the double blow of appalling luck and is racing against time to fulfil son Jamie’s final wishes.
At the same time the 42-year-old, from Sandhills, is calmly planning her own funeral and preparing husband Kev and daughter Sophie, six, for life without her.
“It’s a real bittersweet mix of emotions,” she said. “I firmly believe that when I die I’ll be reunited with Jamie again, and that makes me happy because I can’t bear to think of him alone.
“But the other part of me is absolutely heartbroken at the thought of leaving Sophie and Kevin behind.
“I feel somebody or something up there is making me choose between my two children, and that’s not something any mother should have to do.”
Insurance broker Julie had breast cancer five years ago, but fought it with chemo and a mastectomy.
She was just about to go in for reconstructive surgery when Jamie was diagnosed with a brain tumour and given weeks to live.
In fact the Milton Keynes Prep School pupil fought the disease for two years – and lit up the children’s ward with his cheeky grin.
His dying wish in January last year was that birthdays for children with cancer should still be as special as possible while they were in hospital.
This prompted Julie and Kev to set up Jamie’s Rhythm of Life brain tumour foundation, which has already paid for birthday balloons and gifts for 100 young patients locally.
Working hard to raise cash for the foundation, Julie put it down to depression and exhaustion when she began feeling out of sorts. But a year ago a chest X-Ray confirmed secondary cancer was in her lungs and bones – and doctors gave her between 12 months and five years to live.
The stress caused Kev, her soulmate for the past 23 years, to have a heart attack, from which he is still recovering.
Now Julie’s own dying wish is to fulfil her son’s dying wish to the full. She has vowed to raise £20,000 to roll out the birthday gifts scheme to all 12 paediatric oncology wards in England.
She and Kev are organising a Bollywood Ball at the Double Tree Hilton at stadium:mk on Saturday, June 11. They are appealing for people to buy tickets or donate raffle and auction prizes.
For details view Jamie’s foundation website on http://jamiesrhythmoflife.org.uk
“It’s my job to keep Jamie’s legacy alive. But I’m aware time is running out,” said Julie.
“I’m forcing myself to keep going, and Sophie is the reason I get out of bed every morning. She is a little star.
“When I go for check ups and the doctors say I’m doing well, I look at my wonderful Sophie and I’m filled with elation. Then I think of Jamie and a huge wave of guilt rushes over me.
“All I can do is be thankful for every day I have with one child – and look forward to seeing my other child.”