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Angela Bishop and daughter Amelia: "Daddy left a huge hole in our lives"

The much-loved TV star and her daughter open up about their catastrophic loss a year after losing husband and dad Pete.

By Phillip Koch

Her eyes well up with tears and burn with the intensity of a mum's love as Angela Bishop watches 11-year-old Amelia talk about how she made her beautiful dad his favourite chocolate cake for his 55th birthday.

"Daddy got a taste of his early birthday cake," Amelia explains. "I had to blow out the candles – he had oxygen tubes and it could have blown up the hospital, and we didn't need that."

Her big, strapping "superhero" dad Peter Baikie lay in a hospital bed, knowing the end was near, still joking with the daughter he so adored, and sharing tender moments with Angela, who says she always felt safe in his arms.

"He had a lick of the icing, the rest of us had a piece of cake," Amelia says with a hint of a smile, remembering her motorcycle-riding "daredevil" dad, who loved chocolate almost as much as she does.

Pete was just 54, and only days away from his birthday, which by that stage Angela and Amelia knew would be the last they would spend together as a family.

"We were planning his birthday party for the following week and instead we had his funeral," Ange says, choking up with emotion.

It's been one year since Angela and Amelia lost Peter.
It's been one year since Angela and Amelia lost Peter.

Grief and tears

There have been lots of tears in the 12 months since this man who was the very essence of a real-life hero to his family and friends finally lost his terrible battle to beat a very rare form of cancer; moments when Ange has been left dumbstruck with grief.

"We've had a couple of firsts," she says, voice breaking.

"The first Father's Day, which was awful, both our birthdays – Amelia's was in October and mine was in September, very close to Father's Day. That was a difficult week."

The veteran Ten star says she took Amelia to Melbourne for Father's Day with her wonderful godparents and their two little girls and went to Luna Park to try and distract from the sadness.

"There have been really hard days – you just don't know when it's going to hit you, it can be the slightest thing and it won't be what you expect. We'll go for a bushwalk now and there should be three of us and there are just two."

"Pete's dream was to ride a motorbike around Uluru and we were going to do that together but he didn't make it. We [Amelia and Angela] still went and it was incredible. When we went on a bike ride we really felt Pete was there with us and that was really healing."

"There have been really hard days – you just don't know when it's going to hit you, it can be the slightest thing and it won't be what you expect."
"There have been really hard days – you just don't know when it's going to hit you, it can be the slightest thing and it won't be what you expect."

This week marks 12 months since Pete's death and quite simply Ange has been dreading this first anniversary of the worst day of her life, even as she and Amelia prepare for a charity motorbike ride to celebrate Pete's life and continue his fight to raise money for research into rare cancers.

"You would give anything, anything at all to make it go away and that's why I want to raise money because I know what fundraising can do and with rare cancers it's so much harder," explains Ange, who is a long-time ambassador for the Breast Cancer Foundation.

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The cancer Pete died from struck like a bolt out of the blue. A CAT scan after an incorrect diagnosis of pneumonia showed he had a primary pulmonary synovial sarcoma growing into the fluid next to the right lung. There are just three cases in a million in the world.

"The doctors didn't know what it was to start with," Studio 10 star Ange says, explaining from the outset she and Pete involved Amelia in every stage, honestly answering any of her questions during what turned out to be a heartbreaking 22-month journey.

"Team Baikie is us," she says.

"When Amelia was born she had a heart problem, and we got into battle mode – that's just what we do. It was very much the three of us. Amelia would come and sit with us often when Pete was having chemo."

"It was very much the three of us," Angela says.
"It was very much the three of us," Angela says.
Loving family: Pete, Amelia and Angela. *(Image: supplied)*
Loving family: Pete, Amelia and Angela. (Image: supplied)

Her brave husband had no time for self-pity, insisting doctors try experimental treatments on him even when he suspected they couldn't save him, so someone else could benefit from the trial after he was gone. He never stopped fighting.

"Having the fundraising ride to concentrate on has been sensational because it's given us a focus where we're acknowledging the anniversary and doing something positive at the same time, which he would have loved," Ange says.

Pete had chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumour shortly after he was diagnosed in February 2016, then surgery to try and remove all of it, and radiotherapy – but it returned despite his huge will to live.

"The incredibly rare cancer got him twice in a row," explains Amelia in a matter-of-fact tone that belies her tender years.

"I'm never going to forgive that stupid cancer. It killed my daddy. There's a big hole in my life because Dad's gone."

"I'm never going to forgive that stupid cancer. It killed my daddy. There's a big hole in my life because Dad's gone," Angela's daughter tells us.
"I'm never going to forgive that stupid cancer. It killed my daddy. There's a big hole in my life because Dad's gone," Angela's daughter tells us.
Pete and Amelia had an unbreakable bond. *(Image: supplied)*
Pete and Amelia had an unbreakable bond. (Image: supplied)

Superheroes

Amelia loved playing superheroes with Pete, even if the handsome motor mechanic with the easy laugh and a daredevil attitude to life was often a tad reluctant to play dress-ups with the bright and beautiful daughter he so adored.

But nothing could stop the fun they had when "Super Amelia" burst into character in their living room… until November 22 last year when she lost her dad, and Ange lost the man she fell hopelessly in love with dancing to Elton John's Your Song when they met 16 years ago.

"You do prepare but it was unexpected – we didn't know he was going to pass," reveals Ange, who says his hospital room was "100 per cent" full of love and filled with a big group of family members and friends when they had to say goodbye.

"Nothing will be tougher than that – watching the person you love die and the treatment beforehand. To get up and be knocked down again, and there are so many Australians who go through this. But that's rare cancer. You can't predict it. It's a catastrophic thing."

To help honour the memory of Peter Baikie and raise money for Rare Cancers Australia, buy a ticket for Baikie's Motorbike Ride for Rare Cancers (and Baikie's Bender at the Bridgeview Hotel) and join Angela and Amelia, who will be driving rather than riding, on November 24.

You can help Angela and Amelia honour Peter's memory and raise money for Rare Cancers Australia.
You can help Angela and Amelia honour Peter's memory and raise money for Rare Cancers Australia.

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