A little girl who has stolen the hearts of Falkirk Herald readers as she battles a rare cancer has been chosen to help launch a national campaign.
Nine-year-old Ashlee Easton, from Brightons, who has been treated for stage 4 neuroblastoma after being diagnosed in February 2013, is joining the Give Up Clothes for Good drive by TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens.
The partnership aims to raise money for cancer research by encouraging people to drop off unwanted clothing, accessories and homeware in bins in the TK Maxx store in Falkirk’s Central Retail Park and others across Scotland.
The donations will be resold in Cancer Research UK shops and the charity believes each bag could be worth up to £30, money that will be used to fund research into cures, breakthroughs, discoveries and kinder treatments for cancers affecting, children, teens and young adults.
Mum Lisa (41) and dad Donald (47), are now having a clear-out of their own wardrobes and are urging people to do the same.
Lisa said: “Although children’s cancer is rare, we need to do as much as we can for those children it affects.
“We are so grateful for the life-saving treatments that are available which would not be possible without the dedication of Cancer Research UK scientists and all those who raise crucial funds for the charity.
“We will definitely be having a good clear out and hope others will be inspired to do the same. In doing so, we can all help Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens ensure that more children survive cancer in the future.”
Following her own diagnosis, Ashlee underwent chemotherapy to clear her bone marrow from cancer then had an operation to remove the tumour from her stomach before having a stem cell transplant which forced her into isolation for five weeks.
Unfortunately her bone marrow still wasn’t clear of cancer and she then had to undergo a gruelling six-month course of immunotherapy and a course of radiotherapy treatment that ended in December last year, however.
During some of Ashlee’s treatment, mum Lisa (41) gave up her job to stay with her in hospital while dad Donald (47) stayed at home to look after big brother Jayden (10).
To cheer Ashlee and her family up throughout the traumatic time, pals and staff at her school decided to raise money for them so they could have a holiday when she was in recovery. After seeing the story on the Falkirk Herald website, New York business executive Bart McDade, originally from Camelon, and his friends pledged $5000 – over £2900 – to the collection, which reached a total of £10,760 when it ended in April this year.
Doctors are keeping a close eye on Ashlee with quarterly MRI scans as her life gets back to normal and the family is now looking forward to a Disney holiday in Florida thanks to all the generous donations.
Lisa added: “Words cannot express the enormous impact cancer has had on our whole family and we hope that we can soon start to get a sense of normality again.
“All of our family live nearby and we’ve managed to get through this with their support. But we have just been taking each day as it comes as it’s hard to plan in case Ashlee becomes unwell and we’ve not wanted to build the kids up to anything in case there is a last minute change of plan.
“It will be amazing to have a rest and to feel like a family again, and I think the kids will be so excited to see the Disney parks and go on some of the rides.”
Linda Summerhayes, Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens spokesperson in Scotland, said: “The disease has a devastating impact on children, forcing them to show bravery beyond their years.
“Treatment can last for months, or even years, meaning long stays in hospital away from siblings and friends.
“Unfortunately, some children also have to face living with side-effects from their treatment which can last long into adult life. More children are surviving cancer than ever before.
“Today three quarters of under-15s with the disease are cured compared with a quarter in the late 1960s. But there’s still so much more to do.”
Giving up your clothes can help save lives
Schoolgirl Ashlee is one of around 110 children who are diagnosed with cancer every year in Scotland.
The disease is the leading cause of death in under-25s in the UK, taking the lives of around 550 young people each year.
TK Maxx launched Give Up Clothes for Good – the UK’s largest and longest running charity clothes collection – in 2004 and has since raised almost £20 million for Cancer Research UK.
Over £15m of this has specifically supported research into children’s cancers, making TK Maxx the UK’s biggest corporate supporter of research into cancers affecting children and young people.
Cancer Research spokesperson Linda Summerhayes said: “Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens spokesperson in Scotland, said: “We hope people across Scotland will support our mission to find cures and kinder treatments for children’s cancers. Dropping off unwanted clothing and homeware at TK Maxx will help fund research which really could save lives.”
For more information on how to support the campaign visit www.tkmaxx.com or www.cruk.org/kidsandteens.
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