Christmas Appeal 2023

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, it becomes more important than ever to spend time together as a family, make memories, and have some fun and escapism from the day-to-day reality.

Every year, Candlelighters provides a very special Christmas party for children with cancer and their families. There are costumes and characters, meet and greets with Santa, presents, food, music, games, and lots of happiness and fun. All of this helps to make Christmas truly magical for children with cancer. Our Christmas party is cherished by families for providing an opportunity to spend precious time together, make memories, and for children to enjoy the wonder of Christmas.

Two-year-old Amelie and her family attended the Candlelighters Christmas party last year in 2022. Amelie's dad, Tom, said that "as soon as you walked in, you felt special."

Amelie lives with her mum, Jo, dad, Tom, and Dylan the dog, in Baildon, West Yorkshire. In September 2022, when she was two years old, Amelie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

Christmas 2022 was tough for their family. Amelie was born during lockdown, so they hadn’t had a normal Christmas. When Amelie was diagnosed in September, their idea of 2022 being their first normal Christmas was taken away.

Mum, Jo, said that "We hadn’t been sure whether Amelie would be in hospital over Christmas, as she was in the middle of treatment. This made it impossible to plan anything, as we didn’t know where we’d be on Christmas Day."

The Candlelighters Christmas Party will return this year in December, to make Christmas magical for children with cancer.

"The party was just amazing. As soon as we walked in, we felt special. It felt like Christmas was there, in that room. It was such a special day, and Amelie was just so excited. We finally saw her smile again at the Christmas Party."

Jo and Tom had been so focussed on hospital visits and medication that they hadn’t even managed to put their tree up. "It was just so lovely to go to something that put us in the Christmassy mood. We hadn’t expected it to be as big and exciting as it was. There was just so much to see – each time we walked round a corner, there was something new. There were so many characters – Storm Troopers, Elsa and Anna from Frozen… The big hall was just jam-packed full of activities and music.

Amelie had her face painted at the party and loved it! Every time we go anywhere now, she wants to have her face painted! She also won some teddies and sweeties on the tombola, and there was a magician, who was amazing!"

It costs £32 to give a child with cancer their own special Christmas.

At the Candlelighters Christmas Party, families can be with other people who are in the same situation, whether they are friends from the ward, or families at different stages of their journey - people who understand.

"It was the first year we would have thought about taking Amelie to see Santa, but as she was immunosuppressed, we were really conscious of her being around people. At the party, we knew that this was understood and that everyone would be really careful because we were all going through the same thing.

The Candlelighters Christmas Party was one of the first times since Amelie’s diagnosis that we’d all had a nice day. We started to see the light – it gave us the boost we all needed to get us through the next phase of her treatment. Every phase we got through was a step closer to being back to normal."

Every year, Candlelighters attempts to make Christmas as magical as possible for children like Amelie and their families. It’s these happy memories which last a lifetime and give children an escape from cancer, just for a while. It costs £32 to send a child to our Christmas party. This year, we’re asking supporters for your help to make Christmas magical for children with cancer by funding a child’s Christmas party place. If you’d like to support us in doing this, you can make a donation here.

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