Wigan four-year-old who survived rare cancer stars in UK-wide charity campaign

Victoria Calland, aged four, from Wigan has been chosen as the face of a new national fundraising campaign in Ernest Jones stores across the UK for children and young people’s cancer support charity CLIC Sargent. 

From 7 November, Victoria will also star in Channel 4's Secret Lives of 4 Year Olds.  

Victoria with Snowy

In the run up to Christmas, Victoria, who was diagnosed with the rare cancer embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma last year, is appearing on posters in stores nationwide to publicise Snowy the CLIC Sargent Bear, a plush teddy being sold to raise money for the charity’s work supporting young cancer patients. 

Cancer journey

Victoria, alongside her mum and dad Jennifer and Chris also star in a moving online film for the Snowy campaign where they talk through their cancer journey and explain how support from CLIC Sargent has helped them through their most difficult times.   

Within it, Victoria proudly explains how doctors found a ‘bad seed’ in her tummy and how a robot had to open it up to take it out.  

"We were in shock"

Jennifer explains how Victoria’s illness affected her:  

“Victoria got sicker and sicker and her skin and eyes turned yellow.  Initially we were told a cyst on her bile duct was the cause, but when they operated they found the cancer.

“We were in shock, and I just couldn’t understand why this had happened our family – why was Victoria one of the 425 children worldwide to get this rare cancer each year?  

“One of the hardest things was pulling her out of nursery, having to have the conversation with her keyworker about whether or not to hold a place.  Taking her away from her friends.

 “Watching her go through so much was so hard on us all, especially her brother Arthur who has autism, he really regressed at the most stressful times.”

Support from CLIC Sargent

After the operation, intensive chemotherapy and a 10-week stay in Florida for proton beam therapy followed, but the family were helped throughout their ordeal by CLIC Sargent Support Workers based at Leeds General Infirmary and Manchester Children’s Hospital, where Victoria received the majority of her treatment.    

Jennifer comments: 

“We are so proud of Victoria and the way that she’s coped with everything.

“When we explained to her how Snowy would raise money for other poorly children she just beamed.  Now he’s become her favourite toy, she so loves that bear.  

“When your child has cancer you need as much help as you can get and CLIC Sargent were brilliant with us.  They came to us on the ward and offered their help, rather than us having to seek it out, and their support was invaluable. 

“No family should be without a helping hand when they need it most, so please buy a Snowy bear for your child or loved one, so that CLIC Sargent can help other families like ours.” 

Victoria finished treatment in December 2016 has scans every 3-4 months to check the cancer hasn’t returned.  If all goes well, she’ll get the official ‘all clear’ in five years’ time.  

She is now also set to star in in Channel 4’s Secret Life of  Four Year Olds programme, which starts tonight (7 November at 8pm).  

For every £9.99 Snowy bear bought, Ernest Jones will donate at least £3.50 to CLIC Sargent.  Snowy is available at H. Samuel and Ernest Jones stores nationwide, and via CLIC Sargent’s online shop: https://shop.clicsargent.org.uk/

For more information about CLIC Sargent, or an interview or images, please contact Claire Monger on 020 8752 2938 or claire.monger@clicsargent.org.uk