Today we’d like to recognise the incredible fundraising efforts of Kingsley Dove, who will complete an intense 100-mile ultra-marathon later this year and has already raised over £2,500 for Candlelighters in support of his cousin’s son, George.

George’s mum, Emma, said, ‘On 9th September 2019, I turned up at the Leeds General Infirmary A&E department, knowing there was something wrong with my beautiful baby boy, who had just turned two years old. That is when our lives turned into a living nightmare, and we did not leave the hospital for 17 days. On the 10th day, after biopsies, scans, and having a portacath inserted, George was diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma and started aggressive chemotherapy two hours later.

The news that your child has cancer is something you never think you will hear; those words changed George’s life in a second but also our entire families lives. What we knew as life before would never be the same again.

He lost his hair, was in excruciating pain constantly, and the only thing that kept him calm was being pushed outside in his pushchair, so that is what I did – whatever the weather. I even learnt to push his pushchair and the machines. He hated everyone and everything, so life became very lonely and isolating.

By November, the tumour had shrunk by a third, so they decided to operate. A week later, he ended up back in theatre with a bowel obstruction and four weeks later to have his kidney removed. He developed hypertension, went into moderate heart failure, and we spent four weeks over Christmas and New Year in the LGI. It feels like we have been to hell and back a million times over.

Living in and out of hospital for almost five months, being on the edge of your seat every day wondering when the next temperature will spike,
how his body will cope with chemotherapy or what the next scan will show is extremely hard mentally and emotionally for all of us, but Candlelighters make things just that bit easier. They’ve arranged a 10-minute massage on the ward whilst one of the staff cared for George, breakfast in bed for him (sausage and beans is still one of his favourite meals), and a special lunch box full of surprises when he attends clinic.

Tracy, the playworker funded entirely by Candlelighters, has helped our family immensely too, from sibling support for George’s brother Harvey to support throughout the pandemic at hospital appointments for George and me; I cannot thank her enough.

The ladies in pink eventually became someone to trust for George, someone who would not do awful things to him and someone for us who we could talk to or who would grab us a cup of tea. The work they do is immeasurable to families facing one of the hardest times of their lives.

As a family, we are making every day count; time is precious and taking photos and creating memories is essential. It has taught me never to take time for granted – you never know what tomorrow will bring.

I know we will need the support and input from Candlelighters for some years to come. Their work is vital. Candlelighters are, however, a charity, and without fundraising support, they would not be able to continue their essential services for families and children living with cancer.’

We’d like to thank Emma for sharing George’s story, and Kingsley for choosing to raise funds for us. We’re wishing you the very best of luck with your challenge.

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