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Inspirational teen raises £20,000 for Sheffield Children’s Hospital while battling cancer

Vicky and Philippa Hartley.
Vicky and Philippa Hartley.

The family of an inspiring teenager, who raised over £20,000 for charity while battling cancer at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, have enthusiastically backed a new charity campaign for a renovated cancer ward.

Philippa Hartley, from Wath-upon-Dearne, was 14 when she was referred to Sheffield Children’s Hospital in September 2015, after noticing a 2cm lump in her neck just above the collar bone.

Philippa Hartley with her 'extra special nurse' Polly.

Philippa Hartley with her 'extra special nurse' Polly.

She underwent a series of tests, including MRI and CT scans and a biopsy, and doctors confirmed the diagnosis of a rare and aggressive form of cancer known as Burkett’s non-hodgkin lymphoma.

Philippa began the first of five courses of chemotherapy in October, when she also endured twice weekly anaesthetic for a lumbar puncture and a blood transfusion.

The treatment left her with constant sickness and her throat became raw and ulcerated as a result. She also lost her long brown hair but – in a touching show of solidarity – Philippa’s twin brother Fraser shaved his off too.

“They are so close” said mum Vicky, aged 46.

Philippa Hartley.

Philippa Hartley.

“Both Fraser and her older sister Alicia wanted to be there for Philippa. After Fraser shaved his head, all the lads at Wath Rugby Club where he plays did theirs as well.”

The mass head-shave turned into an incredible community fundraising drive to give back to the cancer ward where she was treated. Sponsored golf days, netball matches, music concerts and leg waxes all shortly followed.

The teenager this week celebrated her three-year anniversary since the start of her treatment, and now undergoes routine scans to ensure the cancer has not returned.

The family are now enthusiastically backing a new charity campaign for a renovated cancer ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, which aims to match the existing world-class care with world-class facilities.

“It such a worthy cause – the ward really does need it. It was adequate and Philippa was comfortable, but there was no escape from the noise,” said Vicky.

“Philippa was 14, but most of the children on the ward were very young. If it wasn’t crying, it was the noise from their toys. We wanted to keep the family together and relax as much as possible, but it was very difficult to switch off.”

Under the plans, the ward would be completely redesigned and refurbished with better facilities for families. The number of isolation cubicles will also be increased, to help those with weak immune systems recover more quickly and create home-from-home bedrooms, easing the anxiety for patient and parent alike.

“The care was exceptional and the nurses on the ward are absolute angels,” said Vicky.

“It’s not just patients, siblings and families that deserve better facilities at the most traumatic and distressing of times, the staff deserve them too.”

Cheryl Davidson, community fundraising manager at the Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “We’ve just launched our biggest ever-fundraising appeal, and a renovated cancer ward has never been more needed as we strive to build a better future for Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

“As Philippa’s fundraising demonstrates, seemingly small actions can have a huge impact. 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.”

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.