CHILDHOOD cancer research charity Children with Cancer UK aims to bring some Christmas cheer into the homes of families affected by childhood cancer this December with a range of virtual activities and gifts for children.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the charity has cancelled its Christmas parties for families, previously held in London and Manchester, and will instead hold two virtual Christmas parties. The charity is also sending out Christmas gift boxes and video messages from Santa to children with cancer. More than 200 families have so far signed up for the charity’s Christmas activities and offerings.
Children with Cancer UK Events Manager Samantha Lloyd said:
“Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our Christmas parties for children with cancer, unfortunately, can’t go ahead this year, but we are determined to keep supporting and bringing joy to children and families when they need it most. Through these virtual Christmas activities and events, as well as gifts and messages from Santa for children, we hope to spread a little Christmas cheer after what has been an extremely challenging year for families affected by childhood cancer. Not only have these families faced the stress of COVID-19, but many have also had the added pressure of cancer treatment and long periods of isolation and shielding this year.”
Lily-May Betts, 4, from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, will be attending the charity’s virtual Christmas party on 21 December and is also celebrating her first treatment-free Christmas since her brain tumour (optic pathway glioma) diagnosis in November 2017, aged just one. Lily began treatment in December 2017 and has since undergone more than three years of gruelling chemotherapy.
Lily’s dad, Stephen Betts, said:
“Christmas last year was spent with me rushing around all day on Christmas trying to get Lily out of hospital, where she’d been for the last two weeks having treatment and suffering from side effects – it wasn’t a traditional, relaxing Christmas. This Christmas we are welcoming a new member to the family – Lily has a little sister on the way – and we are very much looking forward to a Christmas together free of chemotherapy, treatment side effects and hospital rooms. It will be wonderful to celebrate a Christmas that doesn’t revolve around cancer and the stress and worry that comes with it. Looking ahead, our hope for Lily’s future is that she can have a normal childhood; I hope that she is not significantly affected by any of the chemo or brain tumour side effects, like her reduced vision, and I hope we can continue to give her the best start in life possible.”
The charity has also launched a ’12 days of Christmas’ fundraising campaign which encourages the public to ‘give the gift of hope’ this Christmas. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Children with Cancer UK’s funding is under serious threat.
Samantha Lloyd added:
“The charity is facing an income loss of around 40% which will impact the amount of funding provided for life-saving childhood cancer research now and in the future. Support is urgently needed to ensure research, and the discovery of kinder and more effective treatments, for childhood cancer is not set back by many years.”
The ’12 days of Christmas’ fundraising campaign includes ideas such as donating your Christmas party, growing a Santa beard or challenging yourself to a winter dip.
To sign up for Children with Cancer UK’s Christmas activities and offerings, please visit: www.childrenwithcancer.org.uk/christmasforfamilies.
The charity’s Christmas Craft Party will take place on the 13 December and the Virtual Christmas Party with Captain Fantastic, a magic show and party games will be held on the 21 December.