A FIVE-year-old girl who battled leukaemia for half of her young life is set to take part in a charity walk to raise funds for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation (SKFF).
Victoria Stewart will be joined by her mother, Vera, for Emily’s Big Walk to raise awareness of childhood cancer and help collect money for future research.
Victoria, who lives in Haddington, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in August 2009, at the age of two-and-a-half.
After more than two years of intensive chemotherapy treatment, blood transfusions and numerous courses of steroids, she is now in remission.
During the chemotherapy, Victoria – a pupil at Loretto School in Musselburgh – had a transient stroke, from which she made a full recovery, and also suffered swine flu and glandular fever.
Charity worker Vera, 33, said: “Watching Victoria go through cancer and come out the other side is an experience that has made me want to raise funds for the SKFF.”
The walk is named after Emily Bailes, who was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five and lost her battle with the disease in March 2008, aged nine.
The Emily’s Big Walk initiative is taking place throughout the UK, with legs in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow.
Funds collected from the Edinburgh walk will be split between the SKFF and Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group, and will go towards supporting children with cancer at Edinburgh’s Sick Kids hospital.
Vera said: “When Victoria was receiving treatment at the hospital, we were often faced with a sizeable wait between appointments. We found the SKFF Drop-In Centre to be an invaluable resource. The adults could go in, have a sit down with a cup of tea and a chat, and the kids were entertained with arts and crafts.”
The Drop-In Centre, which is the only one of its kind in the UK, opened six years ago and provides a facility for sick children and their families outwith the hospital. With four members of staff and 11 volunteers, the centre is able to provide visitors with support and advice, as well as offering a wide range of activities for the children.
The centre is funded entirely by the SKFF, which donates £150,000 a year to run it.
Vera added: “We can’t encourage people enough to take part in such a worthwhile fundraising event in the memory of a brave little girl.”
Chief executive of the SKFF, Maureen Harrison, said: “I am delighted to announce Emily’s Big Walk will be taking place at the Meadows to raise money and awareness for children’s cancer.
“I would encourage people to attend this event to help us remember Emily, a truly inspiring little girl – and help us improve services in our hospital for other children like Victoria.
“Our plan is to use the funds raised by the walk to improve the treatment room.”
Emily’s Big Walk will take place at the Meadows on September 4 at 6pm. Anyone wishing to take part should visit www.emilysbigwalk.org.uk or contact the SKFF on 0131-668 4949.