18-year-old Lilli was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in 2008 at the age of 14. She had an operation to remove the tumour in May 2008, when surgeons also removed a large amount of affected bone and replaced it with a titanium implant. She received chemotherapy on a ‘two weeks on, two weeks off’ schedule at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and has now been in remission for four years.
When she was going through treatment, the Deputy Head of Hummersknott Academy, Brian Janes, called the family every other week to check how everyone was and if there was anything the school could do to help. When Lilli was diagnosed, her sister Faye was just about to go into her GCSES finals, Mr Janes ensured that she was supported throughout. As a result Faye passed with flying colours far exceeding expectation on her exams, a remarkable feat considering the pressure she was under.
When Lilli returned she was always going to be an easy target for potential bullies etc considering the fact that she looked different, she was very thin when she returned and her hair was very short. It has to be said that there was only one occasion that she was targeted and the school reacted very quickly, Mr Janes immediately spoke to the girls involved, ensured Lilli was okay and made an announcement in the school following the incident. It must be stressed that this was an isolated issue; on the whole the school kids at Hummersnott were great support to both Lilli and Faye.
Mr Janes also provided one-to-one support to Lilli throughout her treatment and supported her through her exams.
Roy Broadbent, the girls’ father, said: “Mr Janes’ support was a credit to the school and its staff. I felt that he was very good at judging distance, time and space. Even since the treatment Mr Janes has kept in touch, Faye returned to the school on work experience and recently Mr Janes provided Faye with a fantastic reference for a job in Manchester.
“Brian Janes was a true inspiration for both Lilli and Faye when Lilli was receiving her treatment. My family could not have asked for better support from Hummersknott Academy. Mr Janes was our guardian angel.”
The Broadbents were supported by CLIC Sargent social worker Maureen Cannell, who is based at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle.
Roy said: “Maureen was absolutely lovely. She met with Chris (Lilli’s mum) and I in the first week of Lilli’s treatment and the first thing she said was, ‘look, I’m sure you’re getting everything thrown at you at the moment so I’ll give you some time and space, but I’ll be back and if there’s anything you need just call me.’ She was very good at gauging the situation and knowing when we needed her support and when we needed space.”
“Obviously the financial impact of cancer is also substantial. We didn’t ask CLIC Sargent for financial help, although Maureen did give us a lot of guidance on how to fill in the DLA application form – at a time when you’re not exactly in the mood to be filling anything in. CLIC Sargent just turned up and helped with everything we needed.”