I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) when I was two years old. I don’t remember much about it now but my treatment lasted three years.
I was off drugs for four years, but the all came back again when I was nine, and I had two-and-a-half years of treatment. It came back for a third time on New Year’s Eve 2011, and this time I needed to have a bone marrow transplant. An anonymous donor gave me their bone marrow and saved my life – I’ve now made a full recovery!
But I want children diagnosed with blood cancer to be guaranteed a successful treatment first time around, so they don’t have to go through what I did.
How do you beat blood cancer?
Since my diagnosis I’ve been involved in all sorts to help beat blood cancer. Anything I can do to raise awareness and money for this cause makes me feel great. Me and my family love doing sponsored events to raise money. We’ve taken part in 12 of leukaemia & lymphoma research’s Bikeathons now – but we’re addicted and want to do more! We’ll also be doing their London | Paris cycle this September to keep challenging ourselves.
What’s your proudest achievement with Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research?
I’ve met some amazing people, both in hospital and at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research events. I was a mascot at Wembley for an England football game, and I carried the Olympic torch in 2012. But the most amazing experience has been being involved in campaigning with the charity. I spoke to potential supporters at 10 downing Street, including Samantha Cameron, as part of the Free to Be campaign. This raised awareness of the need to find less toxic treatments so that every child can survive and live their life to the full.
In 2010 we lost our friend James to leukaemia – he was only 14. We started fundraising in school, and from that we went out into the wider community. Our fundraising kept growing so we set up the Winterton & District branch in 2011. James always wanted to help others – he didn’t want anyone else to go through what he did. He’d be really proud of all of the money we’ve raised.
How do you beat blood cancer?
We run all sorts of fundraisers throughout the year – we want to keep it fresh with lots of original ideas, so that we stand out from the crowd! We hold an annual talent competition between the two local primary schools, and have asked people to give their small change in our ‘Big Copper Count Up’. Last year we launched a local youth development programme, which works with secondary schools to encourage young people to volunteer for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research – as a young branch we feel it’s our duty to get people involved.
What’s the Branch’s proudest achievement?
Last year we hit £50,000. James would have been 18 so it was a very special achievement for us. We held a celebration evening for our supporters, past and present, and had a tour of a research lab in Sheffield – it was amazing to see the work we’re helping to fund. We want to raise £100,000 by 2017, which would have been James’ 21st birthday.
If you'd like to get involved as a young ambassador, email us - we'd love to have you on the team!
You can read 'Together We Can', our 2015 supporter newsletter, here.