A dancing champion battling a rare cancer is urging Scots to clear out their wardrobes and help save lives.
Nine-year-old Lily Douglas has earned around 90 trophies and 200 medals during a stellar career in ballet, street dance, modern dance and tap but is currently enduring chemotherapy at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh ahead of surgery to have a bone in her shoulder removed. She was heartbroken after being forced to cancel an audition with Scottish Ballet in April when doctors diagnosed Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of tumour found in the bone and soft tissue.
But since then Lily has been determined to keep dancing, even winning first place in a solo dance category at the UDO Scottish Street Dance Championships this summer- only two days after completing her fourth round of chemotherapy.
Lily is one of around 310 young people who are diagnosed with cancer in Scotland every year*. Now, to mark Childhood cancer awareness month this September, Lily has been chosen in Scotland to launch Give Up Clothes for Good, a partnership between TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens which raises funds for life saving research in to children’s cancers. Lily, who stars in photographs cross legged on a heap of colourful clothes, is rallying people to donate good quality clothing, accessories and homeware they no longer need to their nearest TK Maxx store.
Each bag donated could make up to £30 when sold in Cancer Research UK stores. The money raised will help fund research to find new, better and kinder treatments for children, and young people with cancer.
Lily of Perth said: “I just love dancing so much and it’s my life.
“I’ve been dancing since I was two and a half. As soon as I get a break from chemotherapy treatment then it’s getting back to dancing that makes me feel happy. If I’m out of hospital in the morning then I’ll often be back at a dance class or taking part in a dance competition by the same afternoon. Now I’d really like to help other children who have cancer. That’s why my Mum and I will be having a good clear out at home and finding clothes and items to donate. I hope everyone across Scotland will get behind this campaign too and turn something unwanted in to funds for such a fantastic cause.”
Lily’s family know first-hand how important research is in helping more children and young people survive cancer. Their world changed this spring when on a car journey home from a dance competition, Lily first complained of a sore lump in her left shoulder. After the pain got worse, Lily visited her GP who referred her for hospital tests. It was a hammerblow on Friday April 28 this year when doctors in Edinburgh explained that Lily had a tumour in her shoulder and both her lungs.
Lily’s mum, Jane Douglas, 47, said: “Lily could tell how upset I was.
“When Lily had first complained of a sore shoulder I’d thought it was only a dance injury. She danced every day and looked so healthy. I remember saying to her, ‘it will be fine. You’ll have just pulled a muscle’. Cancer never even entered by head. Why would it?
“Now I was sitting in a room with Lily asking me: ‘Mum, do I have cancer?’ When I said ‘Yes’, her first question was, ‘Will I lose my hair? When I said ‘yes’, she got quite emotional. That weekend at home was horrible. I had been told the cancer was aggressive so I knew we had a real fight on our hands. It was like a black cloud over us. But by the Monday morning as we prepared to go back in to hospital to start treatment I had decided to pick myself up and get on with it. I’ve not cried since. Lily has made things very easy as she is the most positive person I know.
“The doctors think Lily is incredible and I’m so proud of how she’s taken everything in her stride. Lily has managed to go out there, have fun and keep dancing with her friends through it all. I’m amazed every day by her strength and her courage.”
Photo: Nine-year-old Lily Douglas of Perth who is being treated for cancer is urging people across Scotland to Give up Clothes for Good and help save lives of children with cancer.
Doctors are still finalising a full treatment plan for Lily. She will need 14 rounds of chemotherapy in total followed by surgery to remove a bone in her shoulder. Lily also needs either radiotherapy in the UK or proton beam therapy in America. Currently unavailable in the UK, proton beam therapy is a type of radiotherapy that can reduce side effects for patients by reducing damage to developing or sensitive organs.
For cancer types where there is evidence that proton beam therapy is a better option, the NHS currently pays for patients to travel to countries with the facilities to provide the treatment. The situation will change in 2018 when two NHS proton beam therapy centres open in England which will allow further research to be carried out to find out which children and adults with which types of cancer could benefit from this treatment.
But the results of latest scans reveal Lily is already responding well to chemotherapy treatment.
Lily’s mum, Jane said: “The tumour in Lily’s shoulder has shrunk significantly and the tumours on her lungs are not completely clear but they’re almost gone.
“We’ve also just found out that what they thought may be a tumour in Lily’s leg is actually just signs of an old dance injury. Everything is going in the right direction. We’ve had the most brilliant support from family and friends.”
And out of hospital, Lily has been making every second count. This summer, Lily and pals even got the chance to go back stage and meet the girl band, Little Mix at a concert in Dundee. Lily also flew to London to have afternoon tea in Covent Garden and danced on three West End stages as well as met former Strictly Come Dancing judge, Arlene Phillips.
Lisa Adams, Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens spokeswoman for Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic to see Lily as the face of Give up Clothes for Good in Scotland.
“Lily has been through so much at such a young age. Thanks to research, more children and young people are surviving cancer than ever before. But there’s still so much more to do.
“Our mission is to ensure no youngster in the UK diagnosed with cancer dies of the disease and that those who survive do so with a good quality of life.
“We’re able to carry out more research to help find new, better and kinder treatments for children and young people with cancer thanks to campaigns like Give Up Clothes for Good
“So we hope everyone across Scotland will support the campaign and donate any unwanted clothes or goods to their local TK Maxx store. Every item donated will help bring us one step closer to beating the disease.”
TK Maxx is the biggest corporate supporter of research into children’s cancers for Cancer Research UK and has raised more than £30 million for cancer research since 2004 through stock and cash donations. Of that total, £26.3 million contributes specifically to pioneering research into new, better and kinder treatments for children and young people with cancer, with a further £4 million supporting general cancer research.
Jo Murphy, AVP Corporate Responsibility TJX Europe said: “Thanks to the incredible generosity of our customers and employees, over one million bags of clothing has been donated to help beat children’s cancers. We are proud to support Cancer Research UK’s work and we hope that everyone will get out and support Give Up Clothes for Good this September.”
Donated items are being collected from all TK Maxx stores across the UK. For details of your closes store go to https://www.tkmaxx.com/uk/en/store-finder
For more information on how to support Give up Clothes for Good and Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens, visit cruk.org/kidsandteens