The two young daughters of a woman who died a matter of days ago of brain cancer will on Saturday walk 5km to raise money for research into the disease which killed her.
Their mum died last month 15 minutes after exchanging wedding vows with their dad, who will join the fundraiser in Battersea Park.
Lou Simenson, from Streaham Common, who led a team helping the homeless and raised money for refugees and street children, had been diagnosed just 10 months ago and was given up to two years to live. She had only started having problems with her vision little more than a month before.
But it was too dangerous to try to remove the 41-year-old’s tumour and chemotherapy and radiotherapy failed to halt the spread of the melanoma and she died minutes after she and the love of her life, and partner of 10 years, Shaff Prabatani had said “I do.”
Shaff and their two daughters Alia, 9 and Hannah, 7
Now Shaff and their two daughters Alia aged nine and seven-year-old Hannah Sofia, as well as his sister Shelina will be among hundreds walking 5k or 10km for Brain Tumour Research on Saturday.
Louise, a manager for homeless outreach service Street Buddies in Westminster, also collected clothes to ship out to refugee camps in her spare time.
She volunteered helping vulnerable families in New York City, rural poor children in India and prisoners in Greece and Denmark, where she was born.
Shaff, 49, a community engagement at Lambeth Council, said: “My gorgeous, compassionate wife and soulmate and mother of our beautiful daughters fought the disease with every fibre of her Viking spirit.
“She was loved by so many and leaves a wonderful legacy with all the good she has achieved for others through her purposeful drive and relentless campaigning. The world is a better place because of her.
“Sadly our wedding did not go as originally planned but the service was lovely and understated and I’m now proud to be Louise’s husband.”
Her sister-in-law, Shelina, who was also at her bedside when she died sooner than expected on 12 August, said: “My lovely sister-in-law passed away surrounded by all her family at her bedside, just a quarter of an hour after she wed my brother, Shaff.
Although they had been together over a decade, six weeks before the tumour was identified they decided they were finally going to get married.
“Lou didn’t want a ‘cancer wedding’ and didn’t know how she would feel with the treatment, hence waiting until it was finished. Lou was a fighter and determined to get through this. Alas, it was not meant to be.”
The couple travelled to Denmark to marry by a fjord in Aalborg in July. But her condition deteriorated and they decided to tie the knot at Louise’s parents’ home.
Louise had only begun suffering with headaches and vomiting in August 2018. By October 2018 her vision was deteriorating.
A month later an MRI scan revealed an inoperable, aggressive brain tumour. Louise had a shunt fitted to drain fluid from her brain and received chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
She was given a prognosis of one to two years but died nine months later, fifteen minutes after exchanging wedding vows with Shaff.
Shelina said: “Family and friends, including my two beautiful nieces Alia and Hannah Sofia, are joining us to raise money to help find a brain tumour cure.
We are walking in memory of Louise’s generous spirit and contributing to the charity’s fundraising target of £80,000 from all their Walks of Hope around the country.
“Modest through and through, Lou fought to have her symptoms taken seriously, and we walk to raise awareness of a devastating form of cancer that affects more children and adults under 40 than any other, yet receives only 1% of the national spend on research.”
The Battersea Park Walk of Hope on Saturday is a five or 10km family walk in the heart of London, suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Registration is £10 per adult or £30 per family of four, and includes t-shirts and finishers’ medal.
Fundraising manager for Brain Tumour Research in London Janice Wright said: “We are extremely grateful to Louise’s family, who are doing something amazing by taking part in our Walk of Hope fundraising event so soon after losing Lou.
Fundraisers like Shaff and Shelina are helping us fund seven research centres – and challenging the government and cancer charities to invest more in brain tumour research.”
To sponsor the Shelina and the Prabatani family go to: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lousimonsenprabatani
For more information about the Brain Tumour Research Walks of Hope and to take part go to: https://www.braintumourresearch.org/fundraise/walks-of-hope
Pictured top are Alia, Lou, Hannah Sofia and Shelina before Lou was diagnosed