As we approach Christmas, many of us will be hoping for a better festive season than last year - most especially families like Evie's from Scarborough.
Six-year-old Evie was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia at the end of August 2020. Evie’s mum Katy took Evie to the doctors with a suspected virus but ended up in an ambulance to Leeds Children’s Hospital. Strict COVID restrictions meant dad Simon was not allowed into the hospital at any point with Katy and Evie. Katy said, ‘I had to break the news to him over the phone - possibly the hardest thing I have ever had to do’.
From then on, the family of four have been split in two with hospital restrictions allowing only one parent to stay with their child at any time. The most Katy and Simon could do on switchover days was wave at each other when passing in the corridor. Since starting treatment, Evie has scarcely seen her younger sister, grandparents, friends and extended family.
Evie required a bone marrow transplant meaning she had to isolate as was vulnerable to infections, and due to complications this led to a record stay of eight solid months in hospital. During this time, Evie only saw Katy, Simon, and the hospital staff.
Your support gave Evie a magical birthday and Christmas in hospital last year.
Evie’s birthday is just a week before Christmas, and last year she spent both these special days in hospital, recovering from a third round of chemotherapy. Despite this, Katy said, ‘Candlelighters and the play team made it magical for Evie. She had a birthday disco with a bubble machine and the most wonderful presents including a beautiful princess dress. Candlelighters stepped in where I couldn’t be and made it a memorable Christmas. We are so very thankful.’ Katy was unable to spend Christmas day with Simon and Evie last year, but knowing that Candlelighters were bringing as much magic as possible to the hospital was a great comfort to her.
"At the moment, we are possibly facing another Christmas on the ward, but knowing how well we will be looked after does bring comfort at an uncertain time for our family."
Throughout diagnosis and treatment, Candlelighters have helped Evie and her family in a multitude of ways. Katy says, ‘When we were confined to the ward, Candlelighters helped with food shopping, washing, and all the day to day tasks that we take for granted when we are at home. Aside from the physical help, the Candlelighters staff are always there to lend an ear, make a cup of tea or give us 10 minutes to go and have a much-needed shower and break from ward life. Evie loves chatting to Family Support Workers Amy and Brittany, and usually gets up to mischief with them!’. Katy adds, "Our journey is not yet over, and we anticipate Candlelighters being part of our life for a while to come. They are our hospital family and will always have a special place in our hearts."
"We cannot put a value on the support they provide as it is priceless, but we will continue to support them and encourage others to do so wherever possible."
The sad truth is that not all children with cancer will make it home for Christmas, and many of the children we support, will spend a significant portion of their childhood in hospital. It is absolutely vital that we are able to support families like Evie’s not just at Christmas, but all year round, bringing light in the darkest of times. Your kind donations are what makes this happen.
If you’re in a position to support Candlelighters this Christmas we’d be incredibly grateful. Here are the ways you can support us: