Global music inspiration Georgina Anderson remembered by her proud mum
GEORGINA Anderson’s music inspired celebrities and was heard around the world when the 14-year-old singer-songwriter was diagnosed with aggressive liver cancer.
Now her mother has published an emotional memoir chronicling the last four months of Georgina’s life to let other bereaved parents know they are not alone.
‘Piece by Piece – Remembering Georgina: A Mother’s Memoir’ is a transcript of the diary Helen Victoria Anderson poured her thoughts and fears into, after her beautiful daughter was given the shock news that her recent ‘indigestion’ was an aggressive, malignant tumour.
“A lot of people have come up to us and said they wouldn’t have been able to cope if it were them and I wanted to explain how we put one foot in front of the other. As well as sharing the bad times, I have shown how Georgina’s characteristic black humour has helped us get through,” she said.
The whole point of writing the book was to be honest and not sugar-coat what really happens. If there’s a book out there that does that I haven’t found it.
Helen Victoria Anderson
‘In my experience, many books have information about the medical side of cancer, but the emotional bit is often missing.
‘For example, I have been honest about the strain Georgina’s illness initially put on my marriage to her dad, Paul,” said Helen who’s had many of her poems and short stories published in magazines as we’ll as winning several competitions including the Ink Tears Flash Fiction Competition 2015.
“A lot of people have contacted me to say parts of the book could have been written by them and that my words resonate.
“Many first experiences of cancer are via tv or Hollywood films which can dress cancer up – although we had some quality time as a family when she was in hospital, it’s an ugly disease with side effects we hadn’t expected.”
We’ve since been told by Georgina’s consultant that the book is going to be used as a training tool for junior doctors learning how to speak to the families of young cancer patients.
Helen Victoria Anderson
Georgina had complained of discomfort but her symptoms were dismissed twice by her GP as nothing more serious than indigestion. Then she ended up in A&E and was put on a routine list for an ultrasound scan but, with a holiday to France looming, Helen and husband Paul pushed for her to be given a cancellation slot.
On a Tuesday Georgina was doing PE at school and on the Thursday, doctors confirmed Stage Four cancer.
The girl, who could be found at weekends with her guitar busking in Middlesbrough and Saltburn town centres, was anxious about the prospect of losing her long hair but refused to let her parents, brother Joe or her friends get upset. “From day one she took charge and said no sad faces.”
The disease was so advanced that ‘bucket list’ wishes such as going to Disneyland or London were out of the question but Georgina still had a dream that could come true – to have her music go ‘viral’ and heard around the globe.Her YouTube cover of ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’ by Bonnie Raitt has been played almost 345,000 times and her self-penned track, ‘Two Thirds of a Piece’, released the day before she died, reached number 23 in the charts raising £6,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust and Cancer Research.
Days before Georgina passed away, she was wheeled onto the pitch at Middlesbrough Football Club’s Riverside stadium to see the reaction to her original song played in front of a 14,000 strong crowd. She said it was “unbelievable”.
The song could also be heard in the Rovers Return on Coronation Street before Christmas 2015, thanks to actress Melanie Hill who has become a family friend.
Melanie sent several video messages of support from the set of the Waterloo Road to Georgina who was a huge fan of the BBC school drama, as well as visiting when she was ill at home.Melanie is one of many famous faces touched by her story – Simon Cowell, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, Ed Sheeran, Olly Murs, Joe McElderry and former local X Factor winner James Arthur supported the talented teenager who died at home in Marske, East Cleveland, on November 14, 2013.
Georgina left notebooks full of song lyrics and guitar chord scribbles and, so far, £100,000 has been raised for charity in her name.
Helen, whose book ‘ Piece by Piece: Remembering Georgina: A Mother’s Memoir’ was published by Slipway Press last month, is also seeking representation for her first novel, ‘Blues’ – a piece of darkly humorous literary fiction – whilst forging ahead with writing her second full-length novel under the mentorship of Writers’ Block North-East.
“I started the diary as an emotional refuge at hospital in Newcastle,” she explained. “I had severe depression a few years ago so I took up writing as a form of therapy and I went on to do an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside University.
Helen added: “Georgina knew I was keeping a diary and I’ve thought long and hard about whether she would have approved of the book.
“I think she would have as she made herself so vulnerable in her song lyrics.
“She was so authentic when she was performing and she was a person for telling the truth.”
Piece by Piece: Remembering Georgina: A Mother’s Memoir by Helen Victoria Anderson is available to buy in paperback (ISBN: 978-0-993-4484-0-9) and as a Kindle e-book from Amazon. It is also stocked by Guisborough Book Shop, Saltburn Book Corner, Marske-by-the-Sea Post Office, and Drake The Bookshop in Stockton.
Helen blogs at http://www.helenvictoriaanderson.co.uk
Follow Helen’s writing on Facebook at www.facebook.com/helenvictoriaanderson and on Twitter@HelenVAnderson
For information about fundraising events held in memory of Georgina Anderson visit www.facebook.com/rememberinggeorgina