A TEENAGER bravely battling a rare form of cancer has spoken about a charity close to her heart and how it is helping her on her journey in a bid to raise funds.
Eleanor Oldroyd, of Teanhurst Road, Tean, was only diagnosed with sarcoma in January and since her fight began she has been supported every step of the way by the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Now she wants to raise awareness of the cause and the support it provides for teenagers in a bid to raise vital funds.
Fund-raising efforts will be kicked off with a charity beetle drive at Checkley Community Centre from 7pm on Friday, March 28.
Eleanor, a former pupil of Thomas Alleyne’s High School, was found to have undifferentiated soft tissue sarcoma after discovering a small lump on her head in July last year. Not thinking too much of it at the time, she visited her GP who thought it to just be a cyst.
It was not until the 16-year-old had plastic surgery to remove the lump that it was sent off for analysis and discovered to be cancer.
Now the teenager has to undergo four days of the strongest chemotherapy available every three weeks at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
At the time Eleanor was studying law, sociology and religious studies at Stoke Sixth Form College and was enjoying learning more about her chosen subjects but she has had to put this on hold while she battles the illness.
She said: “It makes me so angry as I was happy and enjoying life. I had even got myself a job at Britannia Stadium. But we are just staying positive.”
The experience is made a little less gruelling by the specialist teenage cancer ward for people aged between 13 and 24, meaning Eleanor is surrounded by people her own age and she has access to wi-fi.
It also means she is not put on a paediatric ward surrounded by very young children and her friends can visit without feeling on edge.
This unit is one of 26 at various hospitals across the country which is funded by the Teenage Cancer Trust.
The charity also provides specialist nurses which act as a liaison between medical staff and the families as well as providing support between treatments.
Eleanor told The Post and Times: “I just think they do such a fantastic job especially when I am there and all upset. It is still early days for me but they have seen many young people in a similar situation to me and they know how to support you.
“The wards do make it a little easier and it is like a little family. It is lovely to have it there but in reality a lot of the time you are feeling so ill that you cannot socialise but you know the option is there.”
The charity has also provided Eleanor with a wig made from human hair as she lost her locks early on, looking completely natural and nothing like the one which was given to her by the NHS. The wig is even styled to fit the teen’s style and shape.
Eleanor said: “The wigs are amazing and they have hairdressers throughout the country who do a fantastic job.”
The Teenage Cancer Trust also provides camcorders for those wanting to document their journey, conferences specifically for teenagers as well as support through social media.
The charity beetle drive, organised by family friend Lesley Faux, will include tea, coffee and cakes with a soup and sweet supper. There will be prizes available for the beetle drive as well as stalls and a raffle.
After an evening of a ‘fast and furious game of beetle’ the night will be rounded off with a disco.
Admission costs £3 for adults, £2 for children and £10 for a family and are available from Ms Faux on 07974 748725 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Trish Oldroyd, Eleanor’s mother, said: “We are really grateful to Lesley for arranging it and all the hard work and effort that has gone into it has been great.
“She is a busy lady herself and has done really well to organise it.
“We are very much appreciative of all the support we have had from the local community.”
Heather Bowen, regional fund-raising manager for the trust, said: “We are not a massive charity and all fund-raising helps enormously as we find a lot of people only learn about the Teenage Cancer Trust when they need us.
“By doing a fund-raising event it does not only help raise much-needed income but it also tells everyone about what we do.”