'GoFundMe' teen who battled homelessness, cancer dies

A teen who battled government bureaucracy, and homelessness has lost her battle with cancer.

A walker rests against the wall. An oxygen tank sits spent on the floor. A small shrine to the teenager's last days rests on a table.

It has been just over two weeks since Demicka Gilmore’s daughter died, and her home is still shrouded in sadness.

"As time goes on it gets harder," she said, forcing back tears.

Demicka’s daughter Tavi lost her 4 year battle with bone cancer on August 19th. She was just 16 years old.

KING 5 profiled the family last winter after learning Tavi wasn't just sick with cancer, but Tavi, her mother, and her brother were also homeless. They spent their nights couch-surfing or sleeping on the floor of a church.

Friends raised $15,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to get the family on their feet, but they had to give all that money back in order to keep their government medical benefits. The donations were considered "income," and Tavi would've had to have stopped her cancer treatments.

After a public outcry, a non-profit was able to recoup about $9,000.

It also allowed Tavi to take her first and only flight. It was a dream trip to London for Tavi's Sweet 16. The family spent a week touring the city and trying to forget about their troubles.

"Just being able to spend time as a family was important," said Demicka.

Shortly after their return, however, Tavi took a drastic turn for the worse. Her lungs filled with inoperable tumors. Within just a few months, Tavi died.

"She kept saying she didn’t want to die," said a clearly distraught Demicka. "I kept telling her to hold on and believe. I prayed for a miracle."

Now, Demicka is at a loss once again. Unable to work since her daughter’s illness, she can’t pay for her funeral. The community is turning to GoFundMe for help. They need about $3,000 for the memorial service and cremation.

Because no government disability benefits are being paid to Tavi any longer, her mom will be able to keep whatever donations come in. 

In a cruel twist, the bureaucracy that kept Tavi from getting help when she was alive will help her now that she’s dead.

Demicka tries to focus on giving her daughter a proper memorial, but right now, she said it’s hard to feel anything but emptiness.

"I feel so alone," she said. "Our bond was so close."

To help the family with funeral expenses, donate on the GoFundMe page

Copyright 2016 KING


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