Monday 15th February is International Childhood Cancer Day. It’s a day to think about the impact of cancer on children and their families.
Every year in Yorkshire, around 150 children are diagnosed with cancer and for over 40 years, Candlelighters has been there to support them and their families.
Those who know from experience will tell you that families’ lives are turned upside down by the shock and changed radically by all the essential practical measures which have to be put in place. It may involve loss of a parent’s job because of the demands on care and their time, and in any event, parents naturally want to spend more time with their ill child than they could do by continuing to work. Care in the home environment where possible means 24 hour attendance.
Marnie’s mum Sally: “Up until December 2018, when Marnie needed chemotherapy, I had worked full time in the pharmaceutical industry, but at that point had to stop work to care for Marnie. The treatment schedule and amount of scheduled and emergency hospital visits and stays made it impossible to do anything else.”
Marnie was diagnosed with Low-grade Pilocytic Astrocytoma or LGPA (a type of brain tumour) in March 2017 at just two years of age. Sally said, “There had always been something that wasn’t quite right and we had been back and forth to the GP with various things, from swollen gums to strange jerky movements, but it always got put down to a virus. Marnie had never been a great sleeper, waking every couple of hours and then towards diagnosis, she was waking saying her head hurt and being sick. Finally, a CT scan was done and that was when we found out she had a brain tumour.”
Marnie underwent surgery to decompress cysts which were causing a build-up of pressure within her head, and also to do a biopsy. In late 2018 after an MRI scan, it was decided that a treatment plan of chemotherapy would also be required for 18 months. Marnie, now six, lives in Harrogate and is doing well after finishing her treatment in June last year.
The charity provides emotional support and practical support, such as grants to cover travel costs or for any parent with the need for a short respite. Sally: “There are far too many things to list that Candlelighters have done for us since Marnie’s diagnosis and, unless you are being supported by them, I don’t think you can ever fully appreciate what they do.”
CEO, Emily Wragg: ‘We are determined to improve the lives of families coping with childhood cancer, both now and in the future. We are proud of the many ways we support families emotionally, practically and financially – which has continued throughout the pandemic. We also bring hope to families by investing in vital research, education and training, helping to improve long-term outcomes for patients.”
If you would like to support the work Candlelighters does in caring for families facing childhood cancer now and creating a brighter future through childhood cancer research, you can make a donation here.
Photograph provided by Candlelighters.