A GRIEVING father is taking on a 50-mile cycle ride in memory of an “inspirational” four-year-old who died of cancer earlier this year.
Rhea Brown spent much of her life in and out of the Edinburgh Sick Kids Hospital, after being diagnosed with an aggressive metastatic germ cell tumour just after her second birthday in April 2014.
She had suffered a minor fall at her birthday party, which resulted in bruising and swelling on her face so her parents took her to hospital.
Doctors could find nothing wrong with her and sent her home, but just days later Rhea started struggling to breathe. Her worried parents rushed her back to hospital, where scans revealed the devastating news that she had advanced cancer, which had spread to her lungs, her kidneys and her liver.
During the next two years Rhea underwent three rounds of gruelling chemotherapy and one of radiotherapy to try to halt the spread of the disease.
At times it appeared her cancer had receded, but in March this year a scan revealed that it had spread to her spine.
There were no treatment options left, so her parents Richard, 39, and Lisa, 34, took her back to their Davidson’s Mains home for her final weeks.
She died on April 15, surrounded by family and friends.
Dad Richard is now undertaking a bike ride in Rhea’s memory to raise money for the children’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent, which helped the family during some of their darkest moments.
He said: “Up until the time Rhea was diagnosed she was just a normal little girl.
“Even after it all happened, she was very good about it. She never complained about being in hospital or anything she had to go through.
“She was smart and funny, right up until the end, taking everything in her stride.”
The popular little girl was always making friends wherever she went, whether it was at home with her brother Sam, aged one, or with patients and doctors on the wards.
Despite her illness, Rhea was always building tents, playing hide and seek or belting out the soundtrack to her favourite Disney film.
Richard, who works for Standard Life, said: “Her optimism was inspirational and her attitude and way of living her life made the whole thing much easier for us as a family.
“She tried to have fun all the time. It was extremely difficult but we still had fun. It wasn’t two years of unpleasantness.
“We knew we had to make the most of everything.”
Since Rhea’s death, donations have poured in to help CLIC Sargent in her memory, smashing Richard’s original fundraising goal to raise close to £7000.
Richard will now take on the Edinburgh Night Ride on Saturday night.
The 50-mile loop around the city sets off from Holyrood Park before finishing up in the same place during the early of Sunday morning – which is Father’s Day.
• To make a donation to help the family’s efforts, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Richard-Brown71