The mother of Isla Caton, the girl who died of a rare form of cancer last week, has thanked the Millwall fans who set aside their rivalry with Isla’s beloved West Ham to pay tribute to her bravery.
Millwall held a minute’s applause in the seventh minute of Saturday’s game against West Brom for Isla, who was just seven when she died last Tuesday (January 25) of neuroblastoma. A photo of Isla smiling was also put up on the big screen in the Den, with the caption ‘In Loving Memory of Isla Caton’. The club sent their best wishes to Isla’s family on behalf of all staff and supporters.
“I’m so grateful to everyone at Millwall,” Isla’s mum Nikki told the News this week. “It means so much, and I’m so proud that she meant so much to so many people.
“Millwall’s been there from the beginning with Isla. It’s amazing. It’s a huge violent rivalry [between Millwall and West Ham], in all the 100 years she is the thing that has brought them together.
“We don’t even have enough words to express how grateful we are… we have all been fighting together.”
Isla’s family was told in 2018 that she had just three months to live. After she was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital, her family took her for specialist treatment in Barcelona. Hope arrived when she was told in March 2019 that she was cancer free, but the disease returned and after even more treatment the family finally had to accept that Isla’s fight would come to an end.
The family decided to spend their last few weeks with their beloved daughter making sure she had the best possible time. Nikki said that they had a “massive Christmas” and did other fun things like hiring out an entire cinema and putting a 30-foot purple dinosaur in their garden. “We did everything we could to give her a good time,” she added.
When Isla finally died, she didn’t suffer, Nikki said.
“She was an amazing little girl. She came to do what she did, which was bring people together and give people meaning in their lives… she came from God to change the world.”
Nikki said that Isla had given hope to people who were suffering in lockdown. “She’s been the light of their life,” she said. “Now we just have to keep on fighting.”
Nikki and her family plan to launch a foundation for research into children’s cancers. “It’s a bit of a taboo subject… until it happens to you, people want to turn a blind eye.”