Candlelighters shares story of Harrogate youngster diagnosed with brain tumour to raise awareness

Children’s cancer charity Candlelighters is sharing the story of a Harrogate youngster to raise awareness during Brain Tumour Awareness month.

Monday, 29th March 2021, 6:14 pm

The Yorkshire charity is dedicated to supporting children and families through childhood cancer and supports much-needed research into the diseases, including brain tumours.

This research is crucial to help children like Marnie Downie-Keally, from Harrogate. Marnie was diagnosed with low-grade pilocytic astrocytoma (a type of brain tumour) in March 2017 at just two years of age.

Mum Sally said: “There had always been something that wasn’t quite right and we had been back and forth to the GP with various things from swollen gums to strange jerky movements, but it always got put down to a virus. Marnie had never been a great sleeper, waking every couple of hours and then towards diagnosis, she was waking saying her head hurt and being sick. Finally a CT scan was done and that was when we found out she had a brain tumour.”

Marnie had a biopsy and underwent surgery as cysts were causing a build-up of pressure within her head. In late 2018, she started an 18-month treatment plan of chemotherapy. Marnie, now six, is now doing well after finishing her treatment in June last year.

She and her family were supported by Candlelighters, which provided them with practical support and entertainment on the wards, wellbeing therapies, trips out and a holiday, as well as financial support.

Sally added: “There are far too many things to list that Candlelighters have done for us since Marnie’s diagnosis and unless you are being supported by them I don’t think you can ever fully appreciate what they do.

“The support provided by Candlelighters has been amazing for our wellbeing. There’s always a friendly face offering a cup of tea and a chat as well as endless entertainment and support for the children.”

Figures from The Yorkshire Specialist Cancer Register in Children and Young People, also funded by Candlelighters and led by Dr Richard Feltbower and Professor Adam Glaser at the University of Leeds, shows a 10 per cent increase in five-year survival rates for 0-18 year olds in Yorkshire for central nervous system tumours diagnosed between 2014 and 2018 compared to those between 1994 and 1998. Survival rates are now up at 80% five years after diagnosis. With continued investment into research, Candlelighters is determined to see this trend continue.

CEO Emily Wragg said: “Research into childhood cancers will bring about life-changing improvements for children and is also ensuring experts are here in Yorkshire to treat children facing childhood cancer now.”

Candlelighters relies on the public and local businesses to continue its investment into childhood cancer research and to support children and families in Yorkshire. The charity’s fundraising income target from individuals and businesses was cut by almost a half last year. Candlelighters is appealing for support through donations, fundraising or taking on a challenge event. For more information, go to www.candlelighters.org.uk