Family and friends are honouring a woman’s dying wish and setting up a charity to raise awareness and funds for the rare condition which took her life.
Shavon Morton, of Grangemouth, died in February after a long fight against aplastic anaemia, her funeral taking place on what would have been her 27th birthday.
Diagnosed with the condition aged 11, the former Falkirk High School pupil spent over a decade going through countless blood transfusions and treatments to enable her to live some kind of normal life.
Mum Helen Campbell said: “We thought she had leukaemia and were initially relieved when the doctors told us she had aplastic anaemia. Then they explained what that was and it came as a shock, because you think of anaemia as something that is easy to deal with.”
Aplastic anaemia is a condition where bone marrow does not produce sufficient new cells to replenish blood cells. Treatment involves suppression of the immune system, an effect achieved by daily medicine intake, or, in more severe cases, a bone marrow transplant.
“She did well for a few years, but relapsed,” said Helen. “Right up until the day she died she never thought the disease would beat her. Even when they withdrew her treatment she remained positive.”
In her last days Shavon, a hairdresser and beautician with her own business, began talking about setting up some kind of charity to help others affected by aplastic anaemia and raise awareness of the condition.
Helen said: “Shavon had a lot of family and friends around to support her, but she knew other people were not so lucky. You have to be away at hospital for long periods of time for treatment and there is not really any financial support for families affected by this conditon.”
Shavon’s Journey, which recently became a registered charity, was set up by a handful of family members and close friends.
“We want to help people with their travel expenses,” said Helen. “Maybe help them with accommodation costs as well when they travel through to hospital for treatment. We also want to provide them with iPads so they can keep up with friends and all the news when they are receiving treatment.”
Shavon’s sister Nicole Campbell (20) helped nurse her right up to the very end and is a member of the charity “gang”, along with Shavon’s pals Joanne Bailey and Kimberley McIntosh.
“She loved camping and events like T-in-the-Park,” said Kimberley. “Shavon never let her illness stop her doing anything.”
Kimberley’s dad Murray (49) was also a friend of Shavon. The former serviceman is now doing his bit to coin in cash for the cause, but admits the fund raising work is also helping him fight back against his own health problems.
Murray said: “It’s amazing how Shavon can be gone, but still be helping people. It’s given me the inspiration I need to get on with my own life and now I just want to help raise as much money as I can for this charity.”
A number of local businesses have helped Helen, Murray and the charity team make Shavon’s last wish a reality, including Donald Cameron at Stef Mac Discos, Scotpod Radio, Crazy Castles and Home Front Signs.
More of Shavon’s friends, including James Bailey and Richard McIntosh, took on the West Highland Way to raise funds for the charity and a recent casino night at Lodge Zetland, Bo’ness Road, also contributed to the cause.
The charity has raised a total of £5000 so far and is now a quarter of the way to reaching its first year target of £20,000.
Last weekend the charity had a stall in the main square of the town of Callander from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., raising awareness and selling CDs of famous Falkirk broadcaster John Manning’s version of Cliff Richard classic ‘Miss You Nights’ - a musical tribute to Shavon.
On Saturday Murray and his mates, including Gareth Clark, Jack Black and John and Elkie Jeffries, will be canoeing up to Strathyre Outdoor Centre for a barbecue and an all-dancing celebration of Shavon’s life.
Then in the second week of August, Murray and Gareth plan to canoe the length of the Caledonian Canal, stopping off in towns and villages along the way to tell people all about Shavon’s Journey.
Visit www.facebook.com/shavbaz for more information.