Young leukaemia sufferer backs colourful campaign in Sheffield

Eleven-year-old Finley Wake has become among the first to see the Big Bears of Sheffield designs before they take to the streets of Sheffield later this summer to raise money for Sheffield Children’s.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 1:11 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 1:12 pm

Finley, from Sheffield, is among the sponsors who are helping to make The Children’s Hospital Charity’s Bears of Sheffield possible. Having taken a sneak peek at the wonderful designs, he said: “I love all the Bears of Sheffield, but I think my favourite is Emma Barnsley’s colourful design.

“Pete McKee’s was cool too and there was one with loads of little people on it which said to ‘be kind’ which I liked as well.”

Finley’s mum Haala, 39, added: “It was great to see Finley looking through all the designs, I don’t think there was one he didn’t like. His face lit up with excitement when he began to look through them all.

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Finley pictured during his treatment

“I can’t wait to do the trail together and see all these wonderful designs in real life.”

Having benefited from the care on the Cancer and Leukaemia ward which the Bears of Sheffield will be supporting, Finley and his family knows just how important the trail will be.

Back in February 2019, Finley developed tonsillitis as Mum Haala recalls: “Finley became very pale, he had no energy, wasn’t eating and suffered with awful night sweats. The doctors tried different antibiotics, but nothing seemed to make him better.

Six weeks later, on 21st March 2019, Finley was sent for blood tests at his local hospital after doctors suspected his tonsillitis had developed into glandular fever. Instead, the results revealed he had leukaemia.

“When they told me what it was, I was just in pure shock and couldn’t comprehend that it was actually happening to my little boy,” Haala remembers.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is a type of cancer which causes the overproduction of immature lymphoid cells. These cells fill the bone marrow and stop it making healthy white blood cells.

Finley’s type of leukaemia is rare with around 790 people diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK according to the NHS. It progresses quickly and requires immediate treatment.

Finley was immediately sent to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and the next day a bone marrow test confirmed the diagnosis. That afternoon, he started his treatment on Ward 6, the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward.

Finley has since had nine months of intensive chemotherapy ranging from injections to tablets, some of which are done alongside lumber punctures. His treatment has also required blood transfusions and physiotherapy, as it has impacted how he walks.

Mum Haala recalls their time on the Cancer and Leukaemia Ward: “Finley was so scared and really poorly when we first went onto the ward. I slept in the bed with him which meant I didn’t get much sleep, but I didn’t mind, I just wanted to be with my little boy.

“We spent two nights on the ward last September when he was admitted because he wasn’t eating or drinking and refused to take any of his medication.

“The ward staff and play specialists came to see him to encourage him. They made drinking into a fun game and arranged a morning of baking to help him eat whilst having fun at the same time.

“The care on the ward has been fantastic, the staff are amazing, cheerful and make us all feel great in a very difficult time.”

Finley and his family are backing the Bears of Sheffield as part of The Children’s Hospital Charity’s ongoing appeal to transform the Cancer and Leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

The campaign will pave the way for the new ward, with money raised from auctions, schools, corporate sponsors and the local community as they join forces to make the lives of patients – like Finley – that little bit better.

Haala added: “The money raised will not only help Finley, but lots of other families each year. I’m so grateful to have such an amazing hospital on our doorstep.”

The transformed ward would create single patient rooms with en-suite facilities, giving children a place to make their own, with room for all their toys and space for a parent – like Haala - to sleep comfortably alongside them.

The redevelopment will also increase the ward footprint, with larger bed bays and more isolation rooms. It will also expand the space for children to play and more than double the size of the ward classroom.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen The Children’s Hospital Charity’s fundraising substantially decline. If you would like to support the patients and staff at Sheffield Children’s Hospital at this unprecedented time, text BEARSOFSHEF to donate £5 or BEARSOFSHEF 10 to donate £10 to 70085. This costs your donation amount plus your standard message rate.

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