Filipino girl who had 'mystery illness' dies

Three-year-old Caitlin Soleil Lucas at National University Hospital earlier this year.
Three-year-old Caitlin Soleil Lucas at National University Hospital earlier this year.PHOTO: JERICHO JOSE LUCAS

Friends, strangers pay tribute to girl who doctors here diagnose with rare leukaemia

She will be remembered as a courageous little girl who never failed to smile despite her battle with a rare form of leukaemia.

More than 200 people packed a funeral parlour in Sin Ming Drive last night to pay their respects to three-year-old Caitlin Soleil Lucas, who died just before noon yesterday.

She and her family had flown to Singapore from their home in Manila in late February in the hope that doctors here would be able to diagnose Caitlin's mystery illness, which first surfaced as insect bites on her feet and then led to a host of life-threatening symptoms.

Her condition was later found to be juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia, a cancer that affects about one in a million children.

She had been receiving treatment for her illness, but yesterday morning had to be sedated and intubated after suffering breathing difficulties due to a lung infection.

Just before noon yesterday, her parents posted on her Facebook page Courageous Caitie: "Today our daughter has gone to Jesus."

 

It was followed by their last family photo, in which her 30-year-old mother, Ms Christine Del Feliz Lucas, is shown embracing Caitlin, with her 34-year-old father, Mr Jericho Jose Lucas, by their side.

From 7.30pm, friends, church members and even strangers who had been following Caitlin's Facebook page turned up to pay tribute to her. The crowd spilled outside the hall, with some standing in the carpark.

"She was an inspiration to many of us," said Mr Philip Cu, a nurse in his 30s. "She was always calm and tackled her condition with such courage."

Many brought flowers in shades of pink, which they placed in front of her white coffin next to a sketch of her portrait. There were also pink and purple balloons tied up in the hall.

As a church band led the crowd in songs of worship, Caitlin's parents arrived at about 9pm and were visibly touched and overwhelmed by the huge turnout.

Ms Feliz broke down several times as she urged the crowd to move closer into the hall. Later, she wept beside her daughter's coffin and whispered: "I'm so proud of you. Look at all the people."

Research manager Apple Dela Rosa-Dollente, 30, said: "I don't know the family personally but I visited Caitlin once when she was in the hospital. I was really touched by how she always had the strength to smile even when she was in pain."

The family will fly back to the Philippines today for a wake. Caitlin will be cremated on Sunday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 01, 2016, with the headline 'Filipino girl who had 'mystery illness' dies'. Print Edition | Subscribe