Abigail’s design features Father Christmas, Rudolph and a snowman and was selected by Morrisons’ CEO David Potts following a competition with CLIC Sargent – the supermarket’s charity partner.
The youngster, 6, was supported by CLIC Sargent – the UK’s leading charity for children and young people with cancer – after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in November 2016.
Her mum, Jo Laidlaw, said: “Abigail is so pleased her design was chosen. After such a traumatic Christmas last year, we are finally looking forward to being able to enjoy time together as a family this Christmas.”
Clare Grainger, Group People Director at Morrisons added: “We loved Abigail’s design and are delighted to be showcasing her talents as we wish all our colleagues a Merry Christmas this year. CLIC Sargent helped Abigail’s family through their ordeal, and we couldn’t be prouder to be partnered with such a life-changing charity.”
Jo first noticed Abigail wasn’t well when she was shortlisted for an advert and her head shots looked noticeably pale. Abigail underwent blood tests at her GP and within hours was on M3 – the oncology ward at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, being treated for leukaemia.
“It was crippling” said Jo. “Fear engulfed my every being. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. I just wanted to run and take her out of there and take her with me.
“That first week in hospital was intense, we were plunged into a world of lumbar punctures, vincristine, dexamethasone, portacaths - all medical terms that became a part of our everyday life.”
Abigail was sent home to spend Christmas with her family, but was still undergoing intensive treatment that made her unwell.
Jo added: “We put the Christmas tree up early as we were worried she wouldn’t feel up to it later on in the month. We were constantly worried that she was going to be sent back to hospital and our family would be split up on the big day. And the fear that this would be our last Christmas with Abigail was just horrific.
“On Christmas Day Abigail had taken her last dose of steroids. I remember looking at her and thinking “you just do not look like my daughter”. But she was on form and so happy that Father Christmas had been. We were all together at my mum’s and my sister came round and we were playing games – pass the sprout and speak out– but it was totally tainted by the fear and sadness of what was happening.”
But CLIC Sargent were there to help Abigail’s family cope with the emotional, practical and financial impacts of the diagnosis. They were assigned a CLIC Sargent social worker, Louise, who helped them cope with the devastating reality of cancer. Louise also helped arrange Disability Living Allowance, sourced a new bike for Abigail to help with her rehabilitation and arrange two breaks for the family.
“Louise helped us function for our other children” said Jo. “Our eldest was the most upset and immediately offered to cut all her hair off so her sister wasn’t alone. Looking after her needs and worries was paramount as well. My eldest daughter said ‘I knew Louise was going to tell me the truth. I knew you wanted to protect me but she would tell me the truth’. Louise picked me up off the floor so many times.”
CLIC Sargent paid the family a £170 grant, offered to all families following a diagnosis to help with the extra costs incurred through treatment. For the Laidlaws, that meant relief from the £15-a-day car park charges and petrol costs.
After months of intensive chemotherapy, Abigail is now in maintenance. She has oral chemotherapy every evening, an additional oral chemotherapy on a Wednesday, monthly pulses of chemotherapy into her portacath and five days of steroids. She will remain on maintenance until April 2019.
“I can’t thank CLIC Sargent enough for what they have done for our family” said Jo. “This Christmas will be really special. For Christmas Day we will be at my mum’s again surrounded by family playing games with laughter and fun.”
Morrisons is partnered with CLIC Sargent until 2020, with a fundraising target of £8m. To find out more about how Morrisons fundraising will help CLIC Sargent, click here.