Grateful family of cancer survivor Alice back campaign to transform Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Alice on the Sheffield Children's Hospital cancer ward.
Alice on the Sheffield Children's Hospital cancer ward.

A grateful family is backing a new charity campaign to transform the cancer ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, after it helped saved their daughter’s life.

Alice Icke was just four years old when she began her battle with cancer in March 2014.

Alice Icke during the stem cell transplant.

Alice Icke during the stem cell transplant.

The schoolgirl, from Ilkeston in Derbyshire, was suffering with a swollen stomach when her parents took her to their GP.

Shortly after, Alice was referred to the Queen’s Medical Centre in nearby Nottingham, where her parents received the devastating diagnosis.

Alice was diagnosed with Wilms tumour or neuroblastoma, which is the most common form of kidney cancer in children.

Surgery to remove the affected kidney, chemotherapy and intense radiotherapy all followed and Alice went into remission, but her journey was far from over.

Alice Icke, aged 8.

Alice Icke, aged 8.

A routine scan a few months later revealed a small tumour on her lung and her family were given the awful news the cancer had returned.

Due to the aggressive form of cancer Alice had, she was transferred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital for specialised high-dose chemotherapy treatment and a stem cell transplant.

Thankfully this worked, and Alice successfully completed her treatment in November 2016.

Her mum, Jane, aged 40, has now joined the Children’s Hospital Charity’s campaign to ensure the cancer ward’s facilities match its world-class care.

She said: “It’s definitely needed. All the staff were lovely and the care was fantastic, but the facilities were not.”

“We’re very lucky in Nottingham that the cancer ward has recently been refurbished. It’s bright and airy, and in contrast the ward at Sheffield was dark and cramped.”

Throughout the time Alice was receiving high-dose chemotherapy at Sheffield, her parents alternated staying by her bedside, with only a chair available for comfort.

Jane said: “You get through it by telling yourself you’ll be home soon. I’ve no idea what the long-term patients do. We’d have found that very difficult.”

“Anyone with children knows that even if it’s just for a day, you travel with so many things- whether it’s extra clothes or entertainment. Space is so important.

“Most children have siblings and you want to be together as a family as much as possible. They experience every second, even if it’s just from the sidelines.

“The ward becomes your home, so the nicer it can be, the lighter and brighter it is, the better everyone feels. It’s much better for patients and parents and creates a better atmosphere for everyone.”

Earlier this year, the Children’s Hospital Charity has launched a £2.75m appeal to transform the cancer and leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, with more space, privacy and natural light.

The ward will more than double in size, with significantly enlarged bed bays and space for patients who have the longest stays in the hospital.

The Children’s Hospital Charity director, David Vernon-Edwards, said: “This is our biggest-ever fundraising appeal and a transformed cancer and leukaemia ward has never been more needed as we strive to build a better future for patients like Alice at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

“Every donation, large or small, will make a difference to young patients from across the UK and beyond, who depend on our hospital’s excellent care.”

The ward’s  main catchment areas are South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire, but they also treat children from as far south as Northampton for bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

In total, between 90 and 100 children rely on its care every year.

To find out how you can support the fundraising effort for a new world-class cancer and leukaemia ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, visit www.tchc.org.uk.