Dying dad celebrates early Christmas after fearing he might miss what will be his first and last Christmas with the child he thought he could never have.

early-christmas-article

Both Jay Clark and partner Caroline Donoghue believed they were infertile when they met two years ago.

Caroline had spent £21k on failed IVF before she met Jay and the couple accepted a childless future together. When Caroline’s periods stopped she thought it was the menopause – but couple were overjoyed to find out she was pregnant with a ‘miracle’ baby.

But their joy was short lived when Jay was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer just two months before his longed-for child was born.

Pair enjoyed an early Christmas with Maxie featuring a Santa and snow but refuse to be sad because they have their miracle Maxie who makes them smile every day.

By Kelly Strange

?
Baby Maxie giggles and gurgles as his little fingers try to tear open his first Christmas ?presents. Santa is there and snowflakes flutter. It’s a magical moment for any parent.
?
But for dad Jay Clark, every second is extra precious.
Little Maxie, 10 months, was the son Jay and girlfriend Caroline Donoghue were told they could never have.
?
Tragically, he’s also the child Jay will never see grow up.
?
Jay was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer two months before Maxie was born. He feared he would never see the tot’s first Christmas.
?
So with help from a newspaper, Santa ?delivered prezzies early to their home in Pevensey, East Sussex.
?
There were magical moment for Jay, 41 – none more so than watching Maxie see snow for the first time. Albeit with a little help from a snow machine.
?
Wiping flakes from his face, beaming Jay says: “Words can’t describe how overwhelmed and grateful we are.
?
“Today had to be as special as possible because Maxie’s so young. The pictures are memories that will never fade away.
?
“And when he reads this one day, I hope he’s had a happy life and I hope he’s learned from Daddy’s experiences, like dealing with life’s adversities.
?
?“I hope he’s kept his personality and is still making people laugh as much as he made his Daddy laugh.
“I want him to know that Daddy misses him and he will always miss him.”
?
Jay refuses to be upset in front of his son. Privately, as he steps into Maxie’s nursery, he can’t help but shed a few tears.
?
But a smile returns – brought on by Maxie’s bemusement at his new 4ft teddy.
?
It’s Maxie that has given Jay so much strength. The doting dad has hundreds of pictures of them having fun together, from wearing matching onesies to taking the first swimming lesson.
?
Maxie’s arrival should have capped a happy union for the couple, who met two years ago.
Plasterer Jay and dog groomer Caroline had written off any hope of a family, as both had been led to believe they were infertile. Caroline, 37, had already spent £21,000 on failed rounds of IVF after tests showed her eggs were such poor quality she could never conceive naturally.

She was honest from the start with Jay, telling him on their first date that she was infertile. When Jay told he he too was infertile the couple accepted a future together without children.

Yet in May last year they got the shock news that she was pregnant. Caroline says: “Jay and I were over the moon, overjoyed about this miracle pregnancy.”
Their bliss was shattered when ­Caroline was seven months pregnant.
?
Jay fell ill with crippling stomach pain. His skin turned jaundiced because a tumour was pressing against his bile duct. The discolouration was at least a warning sign, one which many victims of pancreatic cancer – the so-called “silent killer” – don’t get.
?
Most sufferers are in their 70s and, when spotted, some have just days or weeks to live.
?
While Jay was at least given a fighting chance, a hammer blow came three weeks later when surgeons found the tumour was inoperable as it was growing on an artery. A month later he began intensive chemotherapy, which seemed to work.
?
Maxie, a healthy 7lb 7oz, was born in January. Then joy turned to heartbreak once more as Jay was told the cancer had spread and his days were numbered.
?
Caroline says: “It was so, so cruel. There were tears. But we tried to remain strong. With a newborn it’s the only option. Jay was amazing, offering comfort to everyone.”
To add to the devastation, Jay’s mother died in May from breast cancer. By September, he decided to stop his intensive course of radiotherapy so he could enjoy a better quality of life with his son.
?
While determined to be here for the real Christmas and Maxie’s birthday on January 9, Jay counts each day as a blessing.
And he takes comfort that he got to share his son’s first sight of Santa, thanks to help from Argos and B&M who sent gifts for the family.
?
Jay says: “Getting an early Christmas was something, finally, we could look forward to. But even then I very nearly didn’t make it. Last night I was in agony with Caroline pouring out morphine for me.
“But Maxie really is the thing that keeps me going. He’s a little miracle in so many ways. Any one of us can get cancer. The difference is I have the luxury of knowing roughly when and how I’m going to die. And that gives me time to prepare.”
?
Jay has written cards to be opened throughout Maxie’s childhood.
?
His own father was in the Australian forces and Jay says: “I didn’t know my real dad until I was 16. I never got a birthday card or Christmas card from my dad.
?
“So I’m going to make sure Maxie gets a Christmas and birthday card up to the age of 18 – as well as presents on significant birthdays. Of course I want to be there for him in real life, but I’ve got to go to another place. I’ve totally accepted that now. I’ve even arranged my own funeral.”
?
Jay has set up a JustGiving page to help support Maxie and Caroline. She has had to devote all her time to caring for him.
?
He has also told Caroline he wants her to find someone new. Then Jay even manages to make light of that, saying: “I know Caroline wouldn’t have somebody who didn’t have Maxie’s welfare at heart… I’d haunt them if they didn’t!”
?
Caroline, meanwhile, cherishes their time together. She says: “Jay has been there for Maxie learning to crawl, cutting his first teeth, pulling himself up to standing. This week Maxie learned to say ‘Dad dad’. We have to force ourselves to laugh and see the good that we have.”
?
Jay wants more research into pancreatic cancer. He urges people to get any aches and pains checked out and a Facebook blog, BeMoreJay, supports people to be as upbeat as possible.
?
“There can be lots of silver linings,” he insists. “How many fathers get to spend the first year of their son’s life with them?
?
“And now I spend an early Christmas with him too. Despite everything, I consider myself to be a lucky man in many ways.”
?

To donate to Jay’s cause visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jay-clark <http://justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jay-clark>  <https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jay-clark> See his blog at facebook.com/Bemorejay <http://facebook.com/Bemorejay>  <https://www.facebook.com/Bemorejay>