Wednesday, 21 February 2018
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Christmas & New Year 2017

Step Out For Local Children With Cancer

Join Cancer Fund for Children and Ni4kids for a wonderful Winter Woolly Walk this February...

The charity’s annual family-friendly sponsored walks, supported by Ni4kids, will be taking place at seven stunning locations across the country on Saturday 17 and 24 February and offer the perfect excuse to shake off those winter chills and rally the family together for a fun morning out in aid of local children with cancer.

One local mum who knows only too well the difference that Cancer Fund for Children makes to families affected by cancer is Alison Bell from Newtownabbey who described the day her son Ollie was diagnosed with cancer as the ‘stuff of nightmares.’

She explains, “Just over a year ago on October 18, 2016, I went to wake my five-year-old son Ollie to get him ready for school, just like any other day. However, Ollie complained that he couldn’t put his foot on the floor to get up. He was obviously in a lot of pain and crying so I took him to Antrim Hospital to get an X-ray. As I made the journey, I became increasingly worried as he had been at the doctors with a rash the week before and had been losing a lot of weight recently and was looking pale.

“When the doctors asked to speak to me alone, I knew it was serious. I can remember the words so clearly. ‘It’s not good news – your son has leukaemia’. I had to compose myself before they brought Ollie into the room with me. From there we were transferred to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children where we stayed for the next five weeks for intensive treatments.
“It’s the stuff of nightmares but throughout his treatment Ollie just got on with it and fought. He celebrated his sixth birthday on the ward and we managed to have a little party for him which we fitted in around his chemotherapy on the day.

“The next stages were a mixture of inpatient and outpatient treatment which was really challenging. Although we had the freedom of not being in hospital, the isolation was very hard on Ollie. His behaviour was affected by the intensity of having to stay in the house 24/7 to avoid the risk of infection. He missed school, his friends and just being able to be around people.”

It was whilst Ollie was in hospital that he was referred to Cancer Fund for Children for support. The charity’s team of Community Specialists provide individual support to children with cancer and their families either at home, in hospital or in their community giving them an opportunity to discuss their feelings in a safe environment with someone outside their family unit.

Alison continues, “Our Cancer Fund for Children specialist Gemma was absolutely amazing and a godsend to both Ollie and to me. She built up such a caring relationship with both of us to help us through what has been a very difficult time. Through the dark days of intensive treatment, when we were restricted to the house, her visits would be the highlight of our day. She would use ‘talking through play’ with Ollie to work through any worries he had and always knew at what point to suggest a therapeutic short break for us at Cancer Fund for Children’s short break centre, Daisy Lodge, if things were getting too much.

“She also helped arrange for us to receive one of the charity’s financial grants. Ollie was discharged from hospital in November so it was a massive worry to me how I was going to be able to afford to heat the house for him as it was so cold in the middle of winter and we were at home 24 hours a day. But Cancer Fund for Children were there to support us with their Home Heating Grant. It was such a relief to have this additional worry taken away so that I could get on with caring for Ollie without the added financial stress.”

After a year of treatment Ollie is doing really well and has now started a phase of less intensive treatment. He recently started back to school for the first time since that awful day last October.
Mum Alison commented, “It was a very emotional day – to see how far he has come. He still has two and half years of treatment left, as well as daily chemo and we know that the cancer journey will most likely have long lasting effects, even after he finishes treatment. Missing a year of school has left him behind academically and the chemotherapy drugs could likely have side-effects but, with Cancer Fund for Children’s help, we will address these issues and get through them together.”
Because of the support they received, Alison has now started fundraising, to give back to the charity that was there for her and Ollie and is encouraging others to make a difference to children with cancer by stepping out for a Winter Woolly Walk this February.

Each family-friendly walk ranges from two to four miles, taking in beautiful forests or wild and windy beaches. Walkers are free to stroll leisurely, or walk as briskly as you wish – it’s all about having fun together as a family, getting out in the fresh air and enjoying the wonderful wintry scenery. Funds raised will enable the charity to provide a range of practical, emotional and financial support to families affected by cancer, as well as free therapeutic short breaks.

To register or for more information go to or Tel: 028 9080 5599. Registration is from 10am with walks starting at 10.30am. Keep an eye on Cancer Fund for Children’s Facebook page for Winter Woolly updates.

Walks will take place in:
17 Feb; Tollymore Forest Park, Newcastle; St Columb’s Park, Derry/L’derry; Castle Coole, Enniskillen & 24 Feb Drum Manor Forest Park, Cookstown; Portstewart Strand; Sir Thomas & Lady Dixon Park, Belfast & Antrim Castle Gardens.

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