Brother's cancer fight inspires Tilly, 7, to cut off hair for charity
- Credit: SUPPLIED BY FAMILY
She is just seven years old, but little Tilly Addy has already seen the devastating effects of cancer on a child.
In 2015, her brother Harry Addy, now aged 10, was first diagnosed with a slow-growing type of brain tumour called a pilocytic astrocytoma and has fought against the disease for half of his life.
The loss of hair resulting from treatment is just one of the many effects Tilly has seen while supporting her sibling – and as a result, she decided she wanted to do her bit to help.
Their mum, Melanie Addy, 35, a full-time carer to Harry, told Tilly about the Little Princess Trust and how it makes wigs for young girls who have lost their hair through cancer treatment.
Tilly immediately wanted to help and donate her hair, and at the same time has raised money for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH), which supports the family, in the process.
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Ms Addy, a mum-of-four, said: "EACH has helped us create some amazing memories that are so important when you have an ill child.
"I don’t want my children to look back on their childhood and remember only the hospital trips, and the bad times, I want them to have as many happy memories as possible.
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"Even Tilly, at seven, understands [the difference EACH makes] which is why she wanted to raise money for EACH.
"We’d heard about EACH and knew they were a fantastic cause that had supported families we knew, but we never thought we’d be the ones that needed them.
"Sadly, as fantastic as it is, their service will always be required, and every child who needs their help deserves to have it."
Harry has a strong relationship with one of EACH’s play therapists, Tilly has attended sibling events since she was five and all the family, including Daisy Rodwell, 13, and Hattie Addy, four, have enjoyed the charity’s Christmas parties.
Tilly is described as a happy, helpful, caring, and generous child. She is a smiley person and likes to make presents for her friends and teachers, though she worries greatly about Harry and finds hospital visits, that can vary in length from hours to weeks, tough.
She has cut off 30cm of her hair to donate to the Little Princess Trust and raised £418 for EACH at the same time.
Harry’s tumour was first diagnosed in 2015, so he has faced cancer for half his life, including two-and-a-half years of weekly chemotherapy and major surgery.
Although treatment has taken its toll, he is still a happy boy and, like Tilly, is rarely seen without a smile.
Ms Addy added: "I don’t think I realised how big the diagnosis was at the time and how much our lives would change from then on. I had no idea how difficult the next five years were going to be.
"They said his whole childhood would be taken up with different treatments, so we’re on edge waiting for what’s next, although I’m not sure how many options we have left."
In 2020 the family not only suffered the stress of emergency hospital appointments and complications, but they had to shield for 12 weeks beginning in March, with great concern about the potential effect of the coronavirus on Harry’s health.
The only support for the family was a bubble with the children’s grandmother and Ms Addy’s mother, Lesley Wymer, to help look after the children.
Although EACH has adapted its service to continue meeting the ongoing need for complex nursing and end-of-life care, the pandemic has seen its voluntary income take a tremendous hit.
The charity forecasts a loss of £2.2m in funding over the next 12 months - a third of the total it needs to support families across the region.
To donate to Tilly’s fundraiser visit the Just Giving page here.
For more information about EACH, including forthcoming events and how you can help raise funds, visit the website or call the Norfolk fundraising office on 01508 500894.