Molly is on a mission to prevent other children dying from a heart condition that took her brother's life in 2015.
Max was a normal, bubbly, young boy. He loved football, sushi and video games. Molly was five years older than Max, and they had a typical sibling love for one another.
“I like to think he looked up to me, but he was also an annoying little brother.”
Things started to change for the family after Max started to lose his breath. Initial tests didn’t show much, but in January 2015 Max died in his sleep.
Molly was 15 at the time, in the midst of one of the most stressful periods for most others that age - GCSE exams. Returning to school quickly, just three days later, Molly said she found that helpful as she could speak to her friends about everything.
“I think it’s difficult when you’ve gone through something that no one in your life at your age has gone through, because you feel different. You feel like you’ve grown up at a faster rate. You don’t know what to say to your friends at times. Most friends can’t possibly understand this kind of thing, but it is worth having these conversations and sitting with friends and being open with them is so important.”
Having an outlet for our grief is very useful. Being able to speak about the person that died and also find ways to remember them. This can come in different ways - speaking to others, planting a tree or in Molly’s case it was fundraising.
Just over a year after Molly and her family set up Max’s foundation - with the aim of funding research into hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, the heart condition that Max died from.
Speaking about Max through the foundation also helped her later in life.
“It helped to share the story of Max, it helped me in the rest of my life as I wasn’t as thrown when someone asked me do you have any other siblings? Or are you an only child? If I hadn’t had to share my story I think that kind of thing would have been a lot harder”.
The charity has gone on to fund research assistants, pay for sessions for siblings at Noah's Ark Children's Charity, and support Cardiomyopathy UK, the heart muscle charity.
Molly didn’t stop there. Over the past four years she has been studying Biochemistry at university. In her final year she started looking into the genetic mutation in the Filamin C protein to discover if there was a relation between the mutation and developing cardiomyopathy.
In 2015, my baby brother passed away at age 10 from a heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Six years later, I’ve just submitted my Masters dissertation researching the genetic causes of the same condition. I hope you’d be proud of me, Max ❤️ pic.twitter.com/NIfrKMXX9D— Molly Schiller (@Molly_Schiller_) May 19, 2021
In simple terms - Molly discovered why some people might get the condition Max had. In doing so she has contributed to helping other children in the future.
“Something that is really important to remember is that it is not embarrassing to be upset. It’s not embarrassing to hurt, you’re allowed to be sad, you’re allowed to show emotions. I luckily had a lot of friends who were supportive, otherwise I might not have coped as well”.