Young Hannah Richardson, aged two, was the guest of honour at the Swinnow Road store’s ribbon-cutting event on Thursday, October 19. As well as marking the end of renovations, the event was raising money for CLIC Sargent - the supermarket’s charity partner.
Alicia Nash, Community Champion at Morrisons Bramley, Swinnow Road, said: “We were delighted to welcome Hannah and her parents to our new look store, and hear first hand how CLIC Sargent supports families facing cancer. Hearing everything Hannah’s family have been through makes us even more determined to get to our £8m fundraising target by the end of the partnership in 2020.”
Hannah was all smiles as her mum, Allison, cut the ribbon. But Hannah has spent the last 18 months on a grueling course of chemotherapy to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), after she was diagnosed in March 2016 aged 11 months.
Her parents Allison and Joseph first noticed there was something wrong when Hannah bumped her head and the bump kept on growing. Doctors referred Hannah to Leeds General Infirmary where she underwent blood tests and a biopsy, and was diagnosed.
“All the devastating stories you hear about cancer were running through our head. We were thinking about the worst possible outcome. When we were told ALL, to be honest we were relieved because she had a diagnosis – they knew what it was. It’s the worst thing you could possibly hear, but we knew there was a treatment plan, and they knew what they were dealing with.”
Hannah immediately began steroids to prepare her body for intensive chemotherapy, and she spent the next 52 days in hospital, even staying over her first birthday.
“On her birthday she smiled for the first time in a week” added Allison. “We thought things were looking up, and that we could make something of her birthday, but then things took a fast downturn. She went from smiling to nearly going on intensive care in the evening. It was something as small as a cold and a stomach bug that caused it. We had planned a little party for her, and a friend was going to bring a cake that we had ordered before her diagnosis. But we couldn’t do any of it. We were just upset for Hannah. As soon as we knew we were going to be spending her birthday in hospital, we just wanted to make it as happy for her as we could. So we were just sad for her that she wasn’t able to enjoy it.”
Hannah continued intensive treatment until September 2017, when she began her lower-dose maintenance treatment. She will remain on maintenance until at least March 2018.
"Huge weight off our shoulders"
Joseph, Hannah’s dad, said: “Our CLIC Sargent social worker was one of the first people who we were introduced to. She got in touch and offered to help us with all the different applications for things like Carers Allowance, so we didn’t have to deal with it. She was amazingly understanding and she would listen to what we needed and help us whenever we need it. She kept checking in with us at every stage, when we were applying for benefits and after wards to make sure we were receiving it, and she would visit Hannah on the ward. She even gave her a birthday present.
“When you hear a diagnosis like cancer, everything else in your life takes a back seat and not having to deal with a complex beast of the benefit system is a huge weight off our shoulders, the funds applied for and granted allowed us to keep a roof over heads and food on the table along with the challenges of treatment. For us this is a huge burden of daily life that we didn't have to worry about so we could focus on where we needed to, Hannah.
“We just want to help support the charity in any way, so other children and families can benefit.”
Morrisons colleagues chose CLIC Sargent to be its charity partner following a staff vote in January this year. All money raised will fund Home Hubs next to specialist cancer treatment hospitals, so families can take a break from hospital life or do simple things like wash clothes and prepare a meal. The partnership fundraising will also allow CLIC Sargent to extend the grants it offers to families to ease the financial burden of cancer. It will also provide a new team of nurse educators, who can educate other health, social care and education professionals close to patients’ homes so they don’t need to travel miles for specialist care.
So far, Morrisons colleagues have raised more than £2.1m for CLIC Sargent.
For more information, visit www.clicsargent.org.uk/morrisons