Childhood sweethearts Lisa, 40, and David Parkes, 41, met when they were only 10.
The couple, who share ITV twins and four adopted children, are preparing for their last Christmas together after a heartbreaking terminal cancer diagnosis.
Two years ago, David was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and underwent radiotherapy and chemo before undergoing surgery to have his esophagus removed.
Even though he received the ‘all clear’ in April, they were heartbroken to find out that the cancer had returned and David was only given a year to live.
Lisa’s brother, James, decided to set up a GoFundMe page as he wants the family to make precious memories in David’s last few months.
Teaching assistant Lisa told FEMAIL: “I know that I am just numb. I’m just trying to carry on for David and the kids because I know if I become emotionally involved, I will break.
“I have my moments when I’m in the car on my own and I cry, I’ve cried with David, but I know the full extent of what they’ve said has not sunk in at all. We just have to live each day.”
When the couple moved into their first home in 1998, they started thinking about starting a family.
But because Lisa was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome when she was a teen, she knew it would be difficult to conceive, so they were placed on the waiting list for IVF.
“It was very hard – my mum was really poorly at the time, she had systemic sclerosis, which affected her organs, but all I was focused on was staying positive and trying to get through without thinking too much about it,” she recalled
“But every time we had a negative test it was a horrible feeling, especially when we were getting older and all of our friends around us were having children. But I never gave up, I just always knew deep down that we would have kids.”
After their fourth round of IVF, they welcomed their twins Zach and Annie. “It completely took my breath away. We cried and I called my mum to tell her; obviously I was upset on the phone so she thought it hadn’t worked!
“When I told her she started crying. It didn’t seem real. In the next two weeks I must have bought about 20 pregnancy tests just to check I was definitely pregnant.”
Before the pregnancy, the couple already took in twins Ellie-May and Cole and applied to become foster parents.
“We were completely overwhelmed, happy – and apprehensive. In a year we would have gone from having no children to having four!” Lisa expressed.
After a few years, Lisa got a call from social services to tell her that her other cousin was struggling to cope s the couple agreed to take on Kelsey and Callum.
“We had the perfect life; apart from normal ups and downs, we had a great life until a couple of years ago,” Lisa said.
David started experiencing difficulty swallowing and after only four months, it became difficult for him to eat. Doctors then discovered that he had an advanced tumor.
He was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy before an operation to remove his esophagus.
Lisa said: “He was diagnosed before Christmas – we went on a little family holiday to Blackpool to clear our heads and get away. Believe it or not it was one of the best holidays we’ve ever had as it put stuff into perspective, we cherished every moment.
“Afterwards we told the children. Annie has autism so she didn’t process it at all, she acted completely normal, like it was a cold.
“The children were so strong and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have got through it, they are what got me up every morning.”
Five weeks after he was given an all clear, he started experiencing sore throat. They discovered that the cancer had returned and it was already inoperable.
“It’s hit David really hard. At the most he has 12 months with chemotherapy, if we go ahead with it. Without chemo, it’s more like six.
“We’ve told the children because David is a strong believer in them knowing to give them more time to process what’s going on and that he’s going to die.”
Lisa’s brother then set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the family to enjoy their last Christmas together.
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