We are the Rant family; Helen, James, Toby aged 5 and Rosie aged 3. In May 2020 Rosie was 15 months old and had been out of sorts for several weeks.
We put it down to a virus, teething, acid reflux and even just being a difficult age. She started presenting with pain, wouldn’t sit in her highchair and cried when being carried up and down the stairs. She even started to regress physically and stopped walking. Upon seeing the GP, we were sent to the children’s ward at Harrogate Hospital for an X-Ray. Two days later they had found a large mass on her spine. We were transferred directly to the Leeds General Infirmary neurosurgery ward and the word ‘tumour’ was used.
Rosie underwent nine hours of spinal surgery, however only 30% of the tumour could be removed as it was intertwined with her spinal cord. We were told it was a low-grade tumour and unlikely to grow back quickly. Three months later we were knocked off our feet by the news it had grown back to the same size. She underwent another, more aggressive, nine-hour operation where they managed to remove 70% of the tumour. As a result, there was some damage to her nerves, and she lost the ability to crawl and walk. Thankfully this was temporary and with help from physio and her sheer determination she relearned these skills.
Six weeks later, at only 20 months old, she began an 18-month chemotherapy regime. Rosie completed treatment in May 2022, and the tumour has responded well. Rosie is being monitored closely for signs of relapse, she has scans every six months, and we have to monitor for changes in her walking, continence and pain. We’re now getting used to life on the other side of treatment – where chemo is no longer the focus.
In August 2020 when Rosie’s tumour grew back, she was referred to an Oncology Consultant, and we were introduced to Candlelighters by our wonderful Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialist. At the time, I didn’t quite realise the extent of how much Candlelighters would support us in the months and years to come, and that support will continue whether Rosie requires further treatment or not – we know they are always there for us.
One of my first conversations with Family Support Worker, Amy, from Candlelighters was in the oncology clinic during Rosie’s first chemo session, and we spoke at length about how to speak to Toby and Rosie about the cancer diagnosis. She did not tell me what to do or say; she just helped me navigate my thoughts and validated how I was feeling. I had some very lonely times in hospital with Rosie, but the Candlelighters team were always there to make me a strong coffee, to discuss issues or just chat about trashy TV.
It was so important that there were members of staff at the hospital who don’t do invasive treatments on the children; the Candlelighters support workers helped Rosie avoid making too many negative associations with the hospital. On the ward, the Candlelighters support workers go above and beyond to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for Rosie. Elaine (the Candlelighters Dinner Lady) would search out ANY food that Rosie fancied – she was losing weight drastically but was given every opportunity to eat whatever she may have fancied, and this contributed to her recovery.
Rosie would love visits from the Candlelighters-funded Play Workers, it was a super distraction from the nasty things, and it gave me a break from entertaining a toddler restrained to a hospital bed. Toby also started struggling with his emotions and became extremely squeamish. The Play Team provided me with ideas to support him and help him understand what cancer is. He has also benefitted from attending the Sibling Support Groups at The Square. It has been so nice for both children to have a positive focus associated with childhood cancer.
Both my husband and I have utilised the Talking Therapy sessions that Candlelighters provide, and I have no doubt we may use this service again as we navigate our life post-chemotherapy. After every Talking Therapy session, I would feel like a weight had lifted from my shoulders, and I can’t articulate the difference this made to my mental health – it ensured I was resilient and strong enough to support and care for Rosie.
Candlelighters also provided little treats and luxuries that we would never have prioritised. We will forever be grateful for the holiday to Centre Parks that we had funded when Rosie was on chemotherapy. The children still talk about it; it is such a wonderful memory during a difficult time, and truly provided our whole family with some respite.
People don’t like to think of childhood cancer, but when you are faced with it, the impact is indescribable on the whole family. It is so reassuring knowing that Candlelighters will be there for us no matter what the future holds for Rosie – I honestly couldn’t imagine going through a childhood cancer journey without their support, and we will forever be grateful. – Rosie’s Mum, Helen
We would love your support this Christmas, to make sure we can be there for children like Rosie and her family. If you’d like to make a donation, click here.
We are delighted to announce that our latest Company of the Month is the amazing My Energy Grants!
The Barnsley-based company first began supporting Candlelighters in 2021, joining Club Candlelighters as Transformers – and pledging to donate £25,000 every year for three years!
Over the last year, My Energy Grants have truly committed to being an important part of the Candlelighters family. Over that time Managing Director, Shaun Yates, has taken on two marathons, the whole team completed a marathon walk in December 2021 and the business donated £5,000 to sponsor our star on the ginormous Christmas Tree at our family support centre, The Square, helping to ensure Christmas was as magical as possible for patients and their siblings.
This year, the team organised their first golf day, held at Waterton Park, Wakefield. Shaun and the team dedicated many hours to engaging local businesses for raffle prizes and worked with the golf club to ensure their first event was a great success. Not only did the team run golf competitions and raffles throughout the day, they also held an amazing auction on the evening and in total raised an incredible £13,000.
Shaun added, “We’re very honoured to be announced as Candlelighters business of the month, we’re very passionate about the cause and the wonderful work that this charity does. Our recent event helped to raise some much needed funds and all our staff were delighted to be involved and thoroughly enjoyed the day and evening event. We feel very lucky that we had the privilege of meeting one of the Candlelighters family and was inspired to hear their story and see first-hand how Candlelighters impact local families.”
We are delighted to introduce the shortlisted nominees for our Fundraiser of the Year award. As Candlelighters do not receive any government funding we rely on amazing fundraisers to continue doing what we do. Congratulations to everyone who has been shortlisted for an award, you are all amazing!
Andrew Taylor is a key part of Team Bramhope and this year, to boost fundraising, he organised a 104 mile walk on the white rose way, from Leeds to Scarborough. The walk, undertaken with colleagues from his workplace, raised a fantastic £17,334 and even included some pre-event cake sales too. Andrew is an amazing person who selflessly donates his time, involving friends, family and workmates to make a difference. Andrew is determined, giving 100% commitment to making the event happen.
Layla Wray is fundraising in memory of her brother Aidan. She has taken on a full year of extreme challenges with her friend Maxx and has shown true grit and determination. The challenges include Man vs Lakes – a brutal marathon over the hills of the Lake District, covering over 4200ft of ascent, and a few swims in the lakes. Man vs mountain – 22 Miles weaving up to the summit of mount Snowdon, covering over 5055ft of inclines and some punishing obstacles along the way. The longest obstacle race in the world- 20 Miles, 200 obstacles including the world’s longest monkey bars. The mighty deerstalker – 2 mountains in the dark with a head torch – distance is a hidden secret from the organisers. Plus at least one other race every single month in 2018. She has already raised over £1,500.
Shaun Wilson & Darren Grant have undertaken in memory of Darren’s niece Nioni, the due completed a Tri-Challenge in 2017 but wanted to do it again, even bigger and better this year. The Tri-Challenge 2018 was a mammoth one, covering 250 miles, beginning on Loch Ness and finishing in York at Tower Gardens four days later. It included kayaking the full length of Loch Ness (22 miles) before jumping on the bikes and cycling from Fort Augustus to Ben Nevis (28 miles). The following day they hiked up to the Summit of Ben Nevis (20 miles). Days three and four were spent cycling approximately 180 miles along the Scottish borders to York. The training, organisation undertaken, and the awareness they have raised for the charity along the way is phenomenal.
After Candlelighters launched their range of Virtual Gifts, we were surprised to hear that one of the first people to make their festive purchase from our online shop was from eight-year-old Sam Hunter from Batley.
After a chat with Sam’s mum, Corinne, it came to light that Sam had saved up all his pocket money, and spent £25 on buying virtual gifts. He bought a child’s Christmas dinner costing £5, arts and crafts for the children on the ward costing £5 and a massage for a parent costing £15.
Sam’s generosity was inspired by one of his friends, Joseph Mayman, who in October 2012 was diagnosed with a particularly rare form of cancer, Neuroblastoma. Joseph sadly relapsed in June 2016 and passed away in July 2017 after a four and a half year battle.
Candlelighters supported Joseph and his family throughout his cancer journey, so when Sam found an opportunity to give something back, he took it with open arms.
From everyone here at Candlelighters we would like to say a huge thank you to Sam for his immense kindness and generosity. At such a young age, donating £25 pocket money to buy families suffering with childhood cancer somethings to make life a little easier, is an amazing acheievment you should be incredibly proud of.
If you, like Sam, would like to purchase your own virtual gifts and give something to a family facing childhood cancer this Christmas, please visit our online shop.