Welcome to the November issue of the makeabigdifference newsletter. It is official! You will be glad to hear; that it is approximately 5 weeks to Christmas and the countdown is on, as the Coca Cola Christmas Truck advert is being shown on television and announcing loud and clear; that Christmas is coming.
I must admit; that although all of my Christmas presents are all purchased, I don’t feel very Christmassy yet. It always seems such a rush and even though we have 12 months to prepare, there is always so much else to take up our time and make it seem like there is not much time to breathe, let alone prepare for the big event.
At this time of year in particular, I believe it is just good to slow down a little and think about what’s really important; like how we can make a big difference in the lives of our friends, family, loved ones, work colleagues and members of our local community…. by just spending a little time together and doing small things to help each other. It’s also quite entertaining, to have a think about how many New Year resolutions we will make and also how quickly we will break them; like the new gym membership on 1st January 2013 (which is cancelled by the end of the month), or the detox plan that never quite happens.
We can also take a little time, to think about how we can help make a big difference to one young person who we may actually never meet but whom we can support via Impact Young Heroes and I really hope that this month’s newsletter helps to inspire us all to makeabigdifference to these young heroes in 2013. In this month’s edition, we hear from Jen; a beautiful and vivacious young lady who shares her story of courage, bravery, determination and success with us … Jen Bayley, you are an inspiration and thank you for sharing your story!
We also Congratulate Chris Taylor, who married his sweetheart a couple of weeks ago and we hear about a big surprise on his wedding day…. Congratulations Mr and Mrs Taylor!
To help us this Christmas, we detail how you can help to support Impact Young Heroes via JustGiving, by having a ‘Cardless Christmas’. We also look at exciting ways, you can enter into Christmas festivities and help to support young people who are living with cancer and we share a very relaxing way to do your shopping and avoid the Christmas crowds.
Until next month!
Sharon and the Young Heroes team.
My Story by Jennifer Bayley
My name is Jennifer Bayley – I’m 24 years old and currently working in a pre-school and a clothes shop whilst completing a degree in Early Childhood studies. Sounds like a pretty normal life really… Except….
That this was not my first attempt at university nor has it been an easy three years of studying so let me explain why at a glance it looks like I’m a normal 24 year old completing university and working to pay for all my luxuries in life but in fact it is far from what I am.
In 2006, at 18 years old like a lot of teenagers I finished college and decided I wanted to go to university, having studied A levels in law, sociology and Psychology I decided I wanted to study Criminology and Sociology at Manchester Met just like my twin sister because we did everything together. In my opinion at that age you get rushed into choosing a degree. Anyway, we started at MMU but 3 months in I developed a painless lump on my neck, constant chest infections, extreme fatigue and unexplained bruising – it actually got the point where I couldn’t even walk from the car to uni (5 minutes’ walk). Anyway, after a brief stay in my local hospital for blood, a bone marrow biopsy as a routine check I was sent away with anaemia :/ I later found out my haemoglobin was 4 (bearing in mind the normal levels for adults is between 12-16) and I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia on 26th Feb 2007. In my usual Jen attitude I strongly believe in the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’ and Caroline (my twin) and I were not meant to do that degree.
My sister is now a children’s nurse looking after children with cancer after being inspired by the nurses on the young oncology unit where I was treated for two and half years whilst undergoing chemotherapy. Whilst being treated there I became aware of the role of a Play Specialist and just knew it was what I wanted to be therefore once treatment finished in 2009 I started my degree in Early Childhood Studies and have not looked back since.
However, this is where my story begins –Sharon kindly asked me to write about how my determination has got me through my university course despite cancer treatment and a few other setbacks along the way… I always viewed my cancer diagnosis as an inconvenience in my life rather than it defining me and my life. I was frustrated that for 2 and a half years I couldn’t go to university because of my immune system and the fact I was always in hospital but I always believed I would get there and that was all that mattered. After all if I didn’t have the treatment I wouldn’t be here to study the course I dreamed of doing – sometimes you have to go through things that you don’t like and that you have no choice in –however it is important to always see the positives and remember it isn’t going to last forever and as long as you have the determination and drive to do what you want to in the end then for that short time you can’t, you can focus on getting better.
Having spent a lot of time on the young oncology unit, I met a lot of lovely other young cancer patients who became like a family to me and who are still very much a part of my life now. One person in particular I got to know well was a lad called Kevin Grimshaw – he was diagnosed shortly after myself with the same leukaemia so we had a lot in common, always joking around about our hamster cheeks (from steroids) but most importantly we always found something to smile and laugh about.. Kev asked me to be his girlfriend shortly after I started my degree in Early Childhood Studies, I was so happy, the happiest I’d been for a long time and although Kev was still undergoing treatment we still lead a pretty normal life and fell in love from the first minute we got together. A few months into our relationship and towards the end of my first year at uni, we were shocked to hear Kevs Leukaemia had come back and that his only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant from his brother. It was lucky that my first year of university had finished weeks after this blow and I was able to concentrate on being there for Kev, although being the outsider rather than the patient is a completely different feeling and one I struggled with a lot more. Kev had a month of chemo followed by his transplant in Sept 2010 at the start of my second year at university.
I was able to balance my university work with visiting and staying with Kev but at times I admit it was hard and there were times when I felt like I was going to have to give university a break but I kept thinking to myself ‘hang on a minute, I can do this – I’ve beaten cancer and I’m more determined than ever to achieve this degree.’
I was lucky that Kev was a rock and was so proud of me and every single mark I got in exams and essays, and he’d keep my spirits high and kept telling me you can do this Jen. On top of this, I have my own check up appointments to attend, In a way Kev and I sharing a consultant made this easier although due to steroids I have developed Avascular Necrosis in both knees which also has caused me problems and I have to take regular pain killers as well as recently being referred to a surgeon for various other options as you can imagine Morphine and working with kids isn’t a good combination so having to balance my own on-going fight with Uni has at times been extremely difficult
Kev’s transplant had gone well, he was back home after a month and we began to feel optimistic and that we could finally live a life free from hospitals, chemo and worry.. All short lived as on March 1st 2011 – Kev was given a terminal diagnosis after his leukaemia had come back with a vengeance and was told he had weeks to months to live… Needless to say no words can even describe the upset, anger and frustration but somehow Kev and I managed to keep a smile on our faces and refused to give up that easily. Although, I had an assignment and 2 exams left to do to complete year two I managed to spend quality time with Kev and completed my final assignment. Kevs friend found a trial in Germany that could save Kev’s life and with no other choice but to go for it Kev, his dad and I flew out to Germany a month after Kev was given his terminal diagnosis. I took my revision with me as I was hungry to complete year 2 and the only other thing that kept me going when I felt like giving up was seeing Kev in that hospital bed fighting for his life – How could I give up on uni when Kev was not giving up on his life even when the odds were stacked up against him?
I spent 2 weeks in Germany to then get a train to the airport and fly home alone to complete my final two exams – it was something I had to do, Kev believed in me and that meant more to me than anything else and I believed in him too, we spoke to each other every day and it hurt a lot to be apart from him when everything was so uncertain, something told me to book a flight back to Germany the day after my last exam – Kev’s immune system was battered and all his blood counts were staying flat which wasn’t a good sign – I flew back to Germany on the 11th May 2011 and spent 9 days laughing, joking and enjoying quality time together – it wasn’t much watching catch up programmes on his laptop but it was perfect. Kev deteriorated quickly over night and was in a coma on the morning on the 20th May 2011 with his mum and me by his side he passed away peacefully and although it was hard to be in Germany with no family I didn’t want to be anywhere else but by his side.
I’m pleased to say I achieved a 2:1 mark overall in year two of university, as Kev passed away in May, I had finished University for that year and was not starting back until September, this gave me 3 months to cope with the loss of my soul mate. It might sound strange but watching Kev take his last breaths wasn’t so hard after seeing the pain and suffering he’d been through. I coped with his loss quite well and I think this is because I’d been through similar treatment to him and I knew how tough it was and his body had put up one hell of a fight but no-one can fight like that forever. I’ve not told many people this but I never believed Kev was going to die so when he did it completely knocked me for six. However, I had two choices – I sit around, mope about, give up on university and feel sorry for myself or I start writing my dissertation over the 3 months I had to keep my mind focussed, I ran the race for life in Kev’s memory in the June and I get a part time job in a clothes shop. My way of coping was to turn every negative into a positive, I felt anger, frustration and hate for this stupid disease, I cried many times when things reminded me of Kev and I felt lonely and lost because I no longer had Kev by my side but if we hadn’t of had cancer we would never have fell in love. Kev and I had spoken long before he went to Germany about what he wanted if the worst happened. I went back to university in September having spent time researching for my dissertation knowing that if Kev was still alive he’d want me to carry on and complete university, he knew how passionate I was, not only that but I kept thinking to myself I’d been through my own cancer journey and deserved this more than many. Throughout my third year I’ve had my on-going check-ups which have been challenging due to them being with the consultant and all the staff who also knew and treated Kev. I’ve been struggling a lot more with my knees so have had appointments with the pain team, physiotherapist and surgeons but it will get sorted and I count myself to be one of the lucky ones who has survived Leukaemia. I have now completed the final year of my degree even though it’s been difficult and I miss Kev, I think about him every day I was able to continue my final year of university with the most determination and drive I’ve ever had knowing that before Kev passed away he told me he would be the proudest man in the world on the day I graduate because he knew and understood that I had more than enough reasons to give up but I didn’t. Kev has truly got me through this final year of university knowing he fought Leukaemia three times with no intention of giving up. I’m too determined to be defeated….
I achieved a 2:1 degree which is an incredible achievement but any grade would make me proud considering the tough time I’ve had. I’ve worked voluntarily at the Royal Manchester’s Children’s Hospital with the Play department to get an insight into what they do and I have recently landed a job as a healthcare assistant caring for children with life limiting illnesses and complex needs which will give me the experience to reach my dream job. My goal is to become a Play specialist and to help children in hospital. In time, I want to love again and get married and have a family.
If I was to send out a few words of encouragement to any person fighting cancer – I’d say that no matter what you face, you can achieve anything you want if you believe in it.. I know the last five years of my life have been incredibly tough but I can confidently say the obstacles of my past have become doorways that lead to new beginnings.
- A really big thank you goes to: absolutely everyone who sponsored our very own Rob Law, for his ‘on the buses’ adventure. Rob raised £327.50 via his sponsorship forms, plus £210 via their JustGiving page. Well done Rob, you are a star!
- Impact Young Heroes would like to extend its gratitude and thanks to The Harold Club in Low Moor (Bradford), for donating £250 from the raffle held at their Sportsman’s dinner last month……Thank you for your support!
- A big thank you goes to Miss Mildred Rhodes, for her very kind and generous donation of £100 towards the valuable work of Impact Young Heroes.
- We would also like to thank The Newton on Ouse PCC for their generous donation of £150.
Over the next few months, we will update you all via the newsletter with stories of how your donations have been used to provide support, special days out and respite breaks for young people who are in need of Impact Young Heroes support.
This Christmas; Impact Young Heroes aims to raise funds to provide ‘special days out’ for a number of young people, who are currently undergoing treatment. As you can probably imagine, a cancer diagnosis, or continued treatment is difficult at any time but at this time of year, it can be particularly difficult.
We cannot begin to imaging how stressful it is for young people or their families, when they are going through cancer treatment and never ending hospital appointments; however, we can help to makeabigdifference by doing something nice to bring a little joy this Christmas.
By having a ‘Cardless Christmas’, we can donate the money we spend on Christmas cards and really makeabigdifference by providing a special day out for a young person who really needs something to look forward to. All you need to do is click here: this link will take you straight to the Just Giving page where you can donate. So please, dig as deep as you are able to and forward the Impact Young Heroes ‘Cardless Christmas’ link to as many people as you can. Every £1 donated helps and for a little as £100 we can do something; which will makeabigdifference to a young person who really needs our help.
Stress free Christmas shopping
It most definitely is that time of year again! Christmas bells and high street tills are ringing with the sound of your hard earned cash being exchanged for presents, to give to your nearest and dearest. Stress levels are rising, as children pick up the Argos and Toys R Us catalogues in an attempt to create generous shopping lists for Santa; whilst you sweat at the thought of it all. The Christmas turkeys are all lines up in the supermarkets and the supermarket reward cards are full and ready to spend on those little extras, for the festive period.
In the middle of it all; you are still running homes, doing the School run, holding down jobs, cleaning the house and managing to fit in days/evenings to try see your spouse/partner, family and friends and if you have the good fortune of being retired….. It just gets busier!
Then…You wait with bated breath, for either the washing machine, or some other large kitchen item to break (usually 2 weeks before the happy event) and this is the last thing you need. On top of this, your spouse/partner suggests that you really do need a brand new ‘all singing, all dancing’ 3D/ HD interactive television, as the old one (2 years old) is a bit dated and won’t last much longer…laugh out loud!
Stressed????? We have the perfect answer; to all your Christmas shopping nightmares…it’s called armchair ‘easyfundraising’ shopping and if you do it right, you can purchase all of your Christmas presents, replace the broken washing machine and satisfy the new T.V query all in one go. In the process, you can also help to support young people who are living with cancer! It is stress free and you don’t even need to brave the Christmas crowds.
If this sounds like music to your ears; then we have 10 easy steps for you to follow, to assist you in your quest:
- First, run a hot bubble bath and place assorted scented candles (lit) by the side of the bath and then hop in and reeeeeelaaaaax!
- After half an hour, top up the bath with hot water and relax some more (no time limit).
- Get out of bath and put on comfortable indoor wear (otherwise known as pyjamas) and the coziest dressing gown you can find.
- Switch on the kettle and make a really nice cuppa and cut a slice of your favourite cake….yum yum!
- Switch on the computer and make yourself comfortable.
- Open up a web search engine
- Type in http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/iyh/
- Or, if you have not already registered with easyfundraising follow this link: https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/support-a-good-cause/step-1/?char=18563 and fill in the registration form , selecting Impact Young Heroes as your charity to support.
- Start shopping from over 2000 retailers and see the frown lines slip from your brow, as you realise you may never have to step foot in a shop again.
- See your donations to Impact Young Heroes add up; at no additional cost to you….the retailers do it all!
See, it is so easy and all there is left for me to say is…..Happy shopping and Thank you!
Mr and Mrs Taylor tie the knot!
On the 7th November, Chris and his lovely partner Sarah tied the knot in Cheadle Cheshire. The celebrations were supported by family and friends with Reverend Canon Robert Law (our very own Impact Young Hero’s Volunteer) officiating at the ceremony. Robert said he was very privileged to be invited to conduct their wedding.
Chris and Sarah had a wonderful surprise, when Patrick Viera, Vincent Kompany and Jo Hart visited Chris on their special day. The three Manchester City footballer players responded to requests from Bev Law and Julia Clarey, who independently contacted Sarah Wilkinson and Laura Ingram at Manchester City Football Club to ask for their help in surprising Chris, an avid supporter of Manchester City.
The Club also gave the family tickets in the platinum box to see the match on Sunday 11th November giving them a wonderful treat for their honeymoon. A special thank you to both Sarah and Laura for helping to make this all possible.
Fundraising Idea of the month – 10 ways to help Impact Young Heroes this Christmas
You can support Impact Young Heroes this Christmas and New Year and also raise money to support young people who are living with cancer; whilst having fun times with your family, friends and neighbours. Here are our top ten festive fundraising ideas:
1. Make Christmas Cards and sell them
Handmade cards are all the rage now and you could test your creative skills by having an afternoon ‘card making’ event with your friends. You can then sell the cards to raise funds to support Impact Young Heroes.
2. Carol singing
You and your friends/family can delight your local community by singing Christmas carols to raise money this Christmas.
3. Mulled wine, Christmas Cookie and Mince Pie party
Invite friends round, ask them to make a donation and provide them with free homemade Christmas cookies, mince pies and mulled wine.
4. Unwanted Christmas presents?
Sell any unwanted gifts on an online auction site; such as e-bay or have a January sales car boot sale. Donate all proceeds to Impact Young Heroes.
5. Nativity play/carol service
Ask your local school, church or community centre to collect money on Impact Young Heroes behalf during their 2012 Christmas activities.
6. Christmas party
Ask your workplace if you can collect funds at your Christmas party; or hold a Christmas raffle as part of the festive celebrations. If you are a creative genius, you could try making your own Christmas crackers for your guests, with interesting gifts/jokes inside.
7. Have a cardless Christmas
Instead of sending Christmas cards this year, donate the money you would normally spend to Impact Young Heroes. Ask friends, relatives and colleagues to do the same. We have created a justgiving page for a cardless Christmas, to help you with this. It is so easy and all proceeds come straight to Impact Young Heroes...
8. Decorate your house
If there are no legal restrictions; Make your house into an authentic Santa’s Grotto with lights outside or decorations inside, ask your friends, family and neighbours to make a donation to take a peek at your handiwork.
9. Have a winter raffle or tombola
You can ask family and friends for donations of ‘new’ items; which can be used as prizes and then sell raffle tickets or run tombola and donate all monies raised to Impact Young Heroes.
10. Olde English Christmas Fair/ Christmas Market
Organise an Olde English Christmas fair/ craft fair or Christmas Market (selling all things Christmassy) at your local village hall. You can ask people to make, bake, sew and knit festive special treats in aid of Impact Young Heroes.