'Only weeks to live and now homeless'

The Northern Echo: 'LOST EVERYTHING': Dawn Milburn and James Maddison with, from left, Jack, Ben, Josh, and eight-month-old Casey-Ann 'LOST EVERYTHING': Dawn Milburn and James Maddison with, from left, Jack, Ben, Josh, and eight-month-old Casey-Ann

A MOTHER-OF-FOUR has been left homeless days after doctors broke the news that she may only have eight weeks to live.

Cancer-stricken Dawn Milburn, 27, was hoping to spend her final days surrounded by her children and partner at home – before a fire left it uninhabitable.

She is now sleeping on a camp bed at her mother’s house, where she is crammed in with sons Josh, seven, Jack, four, Ben, three, and eightmonth- old daughter Casey- Ann.

There is so little space that her partner, James Maddison, 20, has been forced to find lodgings elsewhere.

“It has been one thing after the other,” said Miss Milburn.

“It just doesn’t feel real. I have lost everything.

“Normally, people in this situation would be able to rebuild the things. I don’t have the time or strength to do it anymore.”

Miss Milburn, who had one of her legs amputated in an attempt to beat the cancer, believed she had at least 18 months before she would die.

However, last Tuesday she was told her tumour had grown and she may only have eight to ten weeks left.

Two days later, fire broke out in the kitchen of her house in Annand Road, Gilesgate, Durham City, when she was alone at home. She was on the phone when a steriliser for the baby’s bottles caught fire.

Her attempts to tackle the fire were hampered by her crutches. She said: “I tried putting the flames out, but it didn’t work and I had to get out of the house.”

The blaze was extinguished by firefighters, but the kitchen was extensively damaged, and the cooker, fridge and other appliances were destroyed.

The rest of the house is heavily smoke-damaged, ruining carpets, curtains, clothing and the family’s belongings.

“I wanted everything to be as perfect as possible under the circumstances.

“Palliative care staff were coming to the house to help make it as comfortable as possible.

How can they do that now?

“All I want is a house and to be near my family for the last weeks I have.”

Mr Maddison said: “The council has said it would take three weeks for new kitchen equipment to arrive – and the house still has to be repaired.

“We can’t move back until then, by which time Dawn will be bed-bound.”

Miss Milburn was diagnosed with bone cancer while pregnant with her third child, Ben – the couple’s first together.

He was induced three weeks early so surgeons could remove a tumour on her right knee.

“I started with chemotherapy and was told I had a good chance of beating it,” she said.

But last year, after falling pregnant again, Miss Milburn noticed a lump in her right leg.

“The doctors said they wanted me to deliver at 22 weeks or it could have been fatal for me.

“When they said the baby would have more chance being delivered at 28 weeks, I decided to hang on.”

After five days, Casey-Ann was born on May 5 by Caesarean section and, shortly afterwards, Miss Milburn had her right leg amputated and began further chemotherapy.

Sadly, the cancer had spread to her lungs and was terminal.

“I believed I had at least a year and a half to go. But when I went to the doctor on Tuesday, I was told the tumour was growing and they gave me eight to ten weeks.

“I had been planning to take the children to Butlins. But then the fire broke out.

“It is just not possible to stay here with my mother – I need the space. The council has offered me a B&B, but I can’t be that far away in case the worst happens.”

She added: “I’m not going to give up that easily. I want to make it until at least my son’s birthday. Jack is five on March 4 and my 28th is four days later.”

Her friend, Vickie Bell, 35, said: “Her first concern has always been for her family.

“She wanted to cram everything she could into the last few months of her life and wanted to take the kids everywhere.

And now this.”

􀁧 Anyone able to help Miss Milburn can call The Northern Echo’s Durham office on 0191-384-4600.

Comments (12)

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10:52am Mon 13 Feb 12

bishop1 says...

absolutely terrible , I really hope things get sorted out for this family .
absolutely terrible , I really hope things get sorted out for this family . bishop1

11:10am Mon 13 Feb 12

jewitt says...

Touching story. Can't the council offer a house?
Touching story. Can't the council offer a house? jewitt

11:22am Mon 13 Feb 12

bishop1 says...

there has to be something they can do , is it really asking too much for her to be able to end her days with her family in a place they can call home ??
there has to be something they can do , is it really asking too much for her to be able to end her days with her family in a place they can call home ?? bishop1

12:54pm Mon 13 Feb 12

lisa.dicko says...

COME ON COUNCIL!!!!!!! How can you not pull your finger out!!!!!! Get something done 3 weeks, this is not an ordinary case!!!!!!
COME ON COUNCIL!!!!!!! How can you not pull your finger out!!!!!! Get something done 3 weeks, this is not an ordinary case!!!!!! lisa.dicko

3:49pm Mon 13 Feb 12

the-big-yin says...

lets all together find them a private rented property in their area...i will put £50 towards the bond/rent....i do not work but i will help out of my savings....are there good samaritans out there?....come on lets make there final weeks together special.....
lets all together find them a private rented property in their area...i will put £50 towards the bond/rent....i do not work but i will help out of my savings....are there good samaritans out there?....come on lets make there final weeks together special..... the-big-yin

8:08pm Mon 13 Feb 12

RShire says...

I'll put in £50 too. Come on folks let's do what the big yin suggests.
I'll put in £50 too. Come on folks let's do what the big yin suggests. RShire

9:05pm Mon 13 Feb 12

robbiejay says...

I'm sure the council could pull the stops out for her if they wanted
I'm sure the council could pull the stops out for her if they wanted robbiejay

9:09am Tue 14 Feb 12

the-big-yin says...

CAN SOMEONE GET THE PEOPLES ADDRESS...THEY NEED OUR HELP...
CAN SOMEONE GET THE PEOPLES ADDRESS...THEY NEED OUR HELP... the-big-yin

6:10am Thu 16 Feb 12

oneguyh says...

I'll donate £50 if we can somehow get some info. Very sad story indeed.
I'll donate £50 if we can somehow get some info. Very sad story indeed. oneguyh

7:31pm Thu 16 Feb 12

RShire says...

Just above the comments section in this article there is a phone number to call to get details of where to offer help or send donations. Have a pen and paper ready 'cos when I phoned it was a mighty long address.
Just above the comments section in this article there is a phone number to call to get details of where to offer help or send donations. Have a pen and paper ready 'cos when I phoned it was a mighty long address. RShire

12:48pm Wed 22 Feb 12

the-big-yin says...

hope the northern echo chips in too.....and the local housing authority for that area.....
i hope it all works out for your family....
hope the northern echo chips in too.....and the local housing authority for that area..... i hope it all works out for your family.... the-big-yin

2:41pm Wed 22 Feb 12

sophie robinson says...

reading this story really makes you realise how short life is, i feel so sorry for her and her family and children.. i hope she lives longer than she has been told and i agree i would help too if there is anything we can do? x
reading this story really makes you realise how short life is, i feel so sorry for her and her family and children.. i hope she lives longer than she has been told and i agree i would help too if there is anything we can do? x sophie robinson

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