Six-year-old Chloe Chandler from Little Dunmow has courage stamped through every inch of her young body. From the age of two she has been fighting a rare form of cancer, a debilitating disease which has caused painful lesions to form on her spine and every part of her skeleton – and that battle is still not over
Chloe, a pupil at Fitch Green Academy, is facing another year of intensive treatment and during that time she will spend many days and weeks just sitting in a hospital bed in common with hundreds of other young people from across Essex.
It is the boredom and the mental anguish of being away from home that makes fighting disease even harder, but that’s about to change at all five of our major hospitals across the county thanks to a ground-breaking initiative by the Essex-based Lennox Children’s Cancer Fund and Essex Freemasons.
Hundreds of young people facing their own personal challenges with life changing diseases and receiving treatment at our major hospitals in Colchester, Chelmsford, Basildon, Southend, and Romford will now receive back packs from the Charity, valued at around £100 each and loaded with everything they need to make their stay a little easier and slightly less stressful.
Essex Freemasons have provided £23,000 in grant funding to ensure that the service can be maintained for at least the next two years.
Vicky Nash, Family Support Officer for the Lennox Children’s Cancer Fund, commented: 'When children are diagnosed with cancer, they are often immediately whisked from their local hospital to their nearest Principal Treatment Centre. This happens so quickly that they and the parents are totally unprepared for what happens next which means they have understandably failed to bring with them essentials such as toothpaste and toiletries and much more'.
'In many cases the children and parents will be in hospital for a long time, and with Covid restrictions there is little or no access to community areas making it more mentally challenging for young people and their families. Our ‘We have your back’ packs are designed to help overcome those problems – ensuring that the child patients and their parents have the essentials they need and something to do to beat the boredom'.
The ‘We have your back’ packs are loaded with dozens of items from drink containers to board games, from colouring books and journals to luxury blankets, socks, gloves, headphones, chargers, and much more. According to Victoria, Chloe’s mum, they have will really make a difference, helping to change lives of young cancer patients for the better.
'Essex Freemasons and our 8,000 members are very much part of the diverse local community which is why we were pleased to support this initiative which will be operating at all of the major hospitals across the county', said Paul Tarrant, Provincial Grand Master for Essex Freemasons.
'The Lennox Children’s Cancer Fund are doing some wonderful work and I am delighted that between us we will be making lives easier for hundreds of local youngsters faced with fighting this dreadful disease'.