A mother in Devon is facing the heart-wrenching challenge of funding her late daughter’s funeral, feeling “embarrassed” to seek financial help after dedicating her time to care for her daughter during her illness. Erin Chappell, aged 21, passed away on November 22 after a three-year battle with cancer, leaving behind her parents and a 13-year-old brother.
Erin’s cancer diagnosis came just days before her 18th birthday in 2020, around the same time her mother, Nicky, was also diagnosed with cancer. Despite her illness, Erin pursued her studies in Criminology and Psychology at De Montfort University in Leicester, aspiring to support children with mental health issues. Family friend Hannah Awesome recounted how Erin, determined to live normally, returned to university this September but soon experienced worsening health.
Hannah, speaking to DevonLive, shared Erin’s commitment to helping children with anxiety and her struggle to attend school due to her condition. Despite her deteriorating health, Erin returned to university but had to soon seek medical care, first in Devon and then in Leicester, where her condition rapidly declined.
Erin’s family requested her transfer to the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital to be closer to home. Eventually, as her condition worsened, they decided to have her spend her final days at home.
The financial burden of Erin’s care at home, including the cost of running oxygen 24/7, left the family facing substantial expenses. Now, they are struggling to afford the cost of a basic funeral, estimated at around £5,000. Faced with this financial hardship, Nicky considered a ‘Pauper’s funeral,’ a public health funeral with minimal services.
Hannah described this situation as an “injustice” and has initiated a fundraiser to support the family. Nicky’s embarrassment at needing financial assistance underlines the family’s dire situation. Hannah emphasized the family’s intense financial hardship during Erin’s care and the shock at the high cost of a basic funeral.
Erin is remembered as a selfless individual who prioritized others’ needs, even during her own health struggles. According to Hannah, Erin was a constant support for her mother during her cancer treatment and remained selfless throughout her illness, often concealing her pain while caring for others.
The family’s plight and the community’s response highlight the challenges faced by families dealing with severe illness and the financial burdens that can accompany long-term care and funeral costs. The fundraiser set up for Erin’s funeral reflects an effort to provide a fitting tribute to a young woman who touched many lives with her kindness and selflessness.