Speaking of why she is backing the campaign for World Cancer Day, on 4 February, Karen, said: “When Lilly-May was diagnosed with a brain tumour, our lives were turned upside down. But CLIC Sargent was there to help us.
"The charity provided emotional support through our CLIC Sargent social worker, and financial support through grants that were a lifeline when we had to go to Oklahoma for proton beam therapy.
“My colleagues at Morrisons were also a massive support. My manager gave me time off work for appointments with Lilly-May and my store colleagues raised £3,000 so our other sons could fly out to Oklahoma to be with us.
"It meant the world to Lilly-May to be able to spend Christmas with her brothers who she adores, and that was all thanks to Morrisons’ support.
"CLIC Sargent banded together for us when we needed it, and so did our Morrisons colleagues. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Lilly-May was diagnosed with a brain tumour in May 2012, after her parents noticed her eye was wandering. She was sent to Birmingham Children’s Hospital for an eight-hour operation to remove the mass.
Karen said: “The enormity of what had happened didn’t hit me until she came around in the recovery room. Her hair was shaved off; she had staples in her head, and was on morphine.”
Proton beam therapy
Doctors had removed 95 per cent of the tumour, and kept her on close monitoring for the next year.
But in October 2013, the mass started to grow and Lilly-May, then aged six, was sent for proton beam therapy in the USA.
The NHS paid for Karen and her husband, Robert, to fly out to Oklahoma with Lilly-May, but they were forced to leave their sons, aged 21 and 11, with family in the UK.
That is when her colleagues stepped in to help and raise the money to send them to Oklahoma for two weeks. They also faced mounting expenses, but CLIC Sargent awarded the family a Proton Beam Therapy Grant to ease the financial burden.
The proton therapy worked, and Lilly-May’s tumour shrunk and has remained stable. Now aged 10, Lilly-May and her family want to support other families who are going through cancer.
Kate Lee, CEO at CLIC Sargent – the UK’s biggest charity supporting children and young people with cancer, said: “At CLIC Sargent we know hearing the word 'cancer' connected to a child or young person makes lots of people feel helpless, sad or even angry that something so horrid can be happening to someone with their whole life ahead of them.
“Donating and getting your Band Against Cancer wristband for World Cancer Day just says 'I care' and 'I'm on your side' and helps CLIC Sargent reach these families to provide practical, emotional and financial support.”
CLIC Sargent was chosen to be Morrisons’ charity partner following a colleague vote in January 2017. The partnership will last until 2020 with a target of £8m, and has already raised £3m after just 11 months.
On 4 February, Morrisons will hold its biggest fundraiser for CLIC Sargent when it marks World Cancer Day. Band Against Cancer wristbands are available in all stores now, and a nationwide fundraising day will be held across the company on the day itself.
For more information on the partnership and World Cancer Day, visit clicsargent.org.uk/morrisons.