Little Michael Horsfield was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at Christmas last year – and since then the brave boy has faced his illness courageously with the help of medics at Sheffield’s specialist cancer hospital.
The five-year-old, from Gleadless, has rhabdomyosarcoma, the most common of the soft tissue sarcomas in children where tumours develop from muscle or fibrous tissue and can grow in any part of the body.
Since his diagnosis, Michael has been undergoing radiotherapy at Weston Park Hospital, and has been helped by the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.
In May this year, the charity gave Michael his very own Sheffield United football signed by the team, which helped to lift his spirits. Michael’s mum Sinead said: “I have nothing but praise for how Michael was treated during his time at the hospital. The staff were absolutely fantastic and made sure that he kept a smile on his face the whole way through.
“Michael loves his signed football and plays with it all the time.
“Funding and support form the hospital’s dedicated charity has certainly made a huge difference to Michael’s experience and for that we will all be forever grateful.”
Children like Michael are supported through their cancer ordeals in Sheffield by Nicki Lee, a clinical radiographer who specialises in helping youngsters.
Nicki is urging people to take part in a fundraising woodland night walk to support Weston Park Hospital, where she has worked for 13 years.
She will be lighting the way on the third annual Light the Night event with her son, Roan.
The event, which takes place on Saturday, October 4, will see supporters walking through Ecclesall Woods at sundown over a gentle 4.5km route.
There will be live entertainment, and some surprises are promised along the way.
Nicki, 45, decided to support the event with her family after seeing the charity’s work first-hand.
Weston Park is one of only four specialist cancer hospitals in the UK and is home to the only radiotherapy department in South Yorkshire.
During her time at the hospital, Nicki said she has seen many changes as treatments have advanced and funding has increased from the cancer charity, which marks its 20th anniversary this year.
The charity has invested over £3.25 million in the radiotherapy department, and continues to fund extras such as facilities to play music can during treatments and providing gifts for children who have completed their therapy.
“I have seen so many improvements and many of these have only been made possible thanks to funding from the cancer charity,” said Nicki.
“In the radiotherapy department, we understand that there is a need for a more specialised system and support network for children undergoing treatment and the ability to provide this is essential.”
She added: “Not only do we now have a dedicated paediatric specialist radiographer, but also the charity funds items such as sticker books to track treatment progress, end-of-treatment gifts, child-friendly music and birthday presents to ensure that the daunting process is made as fun and stress-free as possible.”
Between 1,500 and 1,700 children are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK, and staff at the Sheffield hospital work closely with families to take into account the needs and concerns of each young patient.
Despite receiving ongoing chemotherapy treatment, Michael is doing well and remains active by regularly playing football with his friends.
“I want to encourage everyone to join Light the Night this year and ensure that support for patients like Michael can continue to improve and expand into the future,” Nicki added. “It’s a real feel-good family event.”
Woodland walk with a neon theme
To mark the 20th anniversary of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity, this year’s Light the Night walk has a ‘90s neon’ theme.
Organisers are encouraging participants to recreate the look with fancy dress and glow-in-the-dark accessories.
Last year more than 600 people took part in Light the Night and raised over £40,000 for the good cause, which supports the hospital’s work. This year, everyone who raises £35 or more before the night of the event will receive a limited edition glow-in-the-dark T-shirt as a thank you for their fundraising efforts.
To find out more or to sign up visit www.lightthenight.org.uk or call the charity office on 0114 226 5370.To find out more about Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity visit www.wwphcc.org.uk