A 13-year-old from Chelmsford who has finished their cancer treatment is calling on locals to back a campaign to support CLIC Sargent - the charity that helped his family.
A unique auction
Tyler Hart and his family are supporting Get in Character - a unique 7-day eBay auction from Sunday 26 Feb to Sunday 5 March which gives readers the chance to bid to become immortalised in their favourite authors’ next book by having a character named after them.
Over 100 authors are taking part this year in the campaign which has raised over £24,000 for the charity since its beginning in 2014. Character names up for grabs include Graham Norton, David Baddiel, Andy McNab, Michael Morpurgo and Holly Smale (author of Geek Girl series).
Signed books are available from Laura Trott & Jason Kenny, Jeffrey Archer and Anne Tyler as well as signed one off illustrations from Axel Scheffler (The Gruffalo), Chris Riddell (the Children’s Laureate), French illustrator Jean Jullien and children’s illustrator Emily Gravett. The campaign also offers any budding writers the one-off chance to have their work critiqued by authors Julie Cohen, Claire Dyer, Karla Brading or Eve Seymour.
The family first noticed something wasn’t right with Tyler after he experienced severe stomach and back ache which doctors initially dismissed as constipation or growing pains. After several trips to the doctor and even emergency trips to A&E because his pain was so severe, Tyler was eventually diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (burkitts lymphoma) in July last year.
Tyler’s mum, Sue Hart, said: “I trusted the doctors that they were right and just believed what they said. They were saying there was nothing wrong with him and maybe it was just Tyler didn’t want to go school. There was a suspicion he was making it up so I had to force him to go to school.
“When we were told it was cancer, I was devastated, I just couldn’t believe it. I felt guilty because I didn’t believe him all those times. Hearing the words cancer was the last thing I expected. The memories are hazy because I think we were in shock.”
Tyler then underwent six intensive courses of chemotherapy which caused a lot of side effects for the teenager.
“Because it was so intense he had to stay in hospital the whole time. He had a lot of side effects - he lost all his hair, he was vomiting, he got pneumonia, his hickman line got E.coli and he lost a lot of weight because would struggle to eat or drink.
“As a parent it was awful to see, I had to hold him when he was in pain. For Tyler, the not knowing what was happening and losing control of himself was hard.”
During his treatment in London, Tyler’s family had support from a CLIC Sargent social worker who provide financial, emotional and practical support to children and young people with cancer. A recent Cancer Costs campaign from the charity revealed that on average families with a child undergoing active cancer treatment spend up to £600 extra a month
“When I met our CLIC Sargent social worker Jan, she offered us a grant of £170 from the charity and told us about other financial aids available which was a massive help as our debts were piling up due to travel and all the other costs.
“We get on really well and if I had any worries I could text her or phone her. When I was struggling I could just talk to her easily and it really helped. I don’t know what we would have done without her.”
Thankfully the chemotherapy was successful and Tyler has now been reunited with his family who are keen to give something back by backing the Get in Character campaign.
Rachel Kirkby-Rider, Director of Income and Engagement at CLIC Sargent, said: “We can’t thank all the authors enough for being so generous with these once-in-a-lifetime offers for book fans. Every bid and the money raised from the auction will make a massive difference in the fight against cancer for children and young people like Tyler across the UK.”