Hayley, aged 16 from Holyport near Maidenhead, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) at just 18 months old, and has since gone on to become a successful performer on stage and screen, including playing Matilda in the West End when she was only 9 years old.
Although Hayley was very young when she was diagnosed, she still has memories of her experience.
Hayley said: “I do vividly remember the check-ups and I still have some check-ups today as well as a couple of visual reminders. However, whilst it’s part of my life, I have never let it define me. I don’t dwell on it and neither do my family - I continue to focus on the future.”
Hayley had four cycles of chemotherapy over seven months, spending most of it in an isolated room in the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford with one of her parents looking after her. While Hayley underwent treatment the rest of her family often stayed in CLIC Sargent’s CLIC House which meant the family could be together, just walking distance from the hospital.
Help from CLIC Sargent
“My parents always told me how much CLIC House helped them as it was so important to have some time away from the hospital in a homely environment.” CLIC House still provides rooms for families to stay in during a child’s cancer treatment.
Hayley is now asking people to listen to her song ‘Mars’ and donate to CLIC Sargent, who helped her family throughout Hayley’s treatment. The video which accompanies the song provides an inspirational message of hope for anyone going through the same journey as Hayley and her family did.
Hayley goes on: “Although I remember very little about my cancer experience, I know CLIC Sargent really supported my family at a difficult time so I have always wanted to give something back. I’m no good at running marathons or baking cakes so I thought I’d donate a song.”.
“Mars is really personal song to me as it’s one of the earliest songs I ever wrote and is about making the best out of a bad situation, which I think is a really positive message for other young people going through a tough time. My parents found some old video footage of me going through treatment and so told the story in the video for the song. They remember how much comfort they drew from hearing positive stories when I was ill so hope that other families can draw similar strength from our own story."
Hayley had great success playing Matilda, performing at the Royal Variety show where she met the Queen and representing the West End at the Best of British showcase for the London 2012 Olympics. She subsequently appeared in the opening run of Tom Stoppard’s ‘The Hard Problem’ at the National Theatre and played opposite Eva Green in ‘Penny Dreadful’ for SKY Atlantic. Hayley is also an emerging singer-songwriter and her first 4 songs, written and performed under the name ‘cannibal’, have been played on BBC Radio. Her singing brought her to the attention of ITV and last year she reached the Quarter-finals of the Voice Kids UK.
Hayley has just finished appearing as Katrina in the Legend of Sleepy Hollow which received rave reviews at the Other Palace Theatre in London. Whilst rehearsing for opening night, Hayley took time out to meet Amelia Winsbury, aged seven, who CLIC Sargent has also supported throughout her cancer treatment. Amelia loves to act and dance and got the opportunity to see Hayley perform on stage.
Hayley wants the release of this song and her story to be a positive message for young people like Amelia, saying: “My message to young people with cancer would be ‘don’t let it define you’ - focus on the things you love and be brave.”
You can listen to Hayley’s song by watching the video of her story:
Or you can download/stream the song, Mars by Cannibal (available on all major digital music platforms) with all proceeds going to CLIC Sargent.