Unite against can­cer

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Health -

LOUISA But­tery was so young when she was di­ag­nosed with leukaemia that she won’t re­mem­ber her six months in hos­pi­tal, the re­peated rounds of chemo­ther­apy, or her bone mar­row trans­plant.

The con­di­tion was di­ag­nosed af­ter the now healthy six-year-old failed to thrive in her first few weeks of life.

But al­though four out of five chil­dren di­ag­nosed with leukaemia now sur­vive, the prog­no­sis was bleak for Louisa when she failed to go into re­mis­sion af­ter three cour­ses of chemo­ther­apy.

Her mum, Dav­ina, who lives in Sur­rey with Louisa, hus­band Dar­ren and their other chil­dren Char­lotte, 10, and Ed­die, eight, says: “It was ex­tremely tough on us all.

“Doc­tors ad­vised us that she would need a bone mar­row trans­plant, so the whole fam­ily was tested.”

Brother Ed­die’s bone mar­row was found to be a per­fect match for Louisa, and she had a trans­plant when she was just six-months-old, and Ed­die was three.

The trans­plant was a suc­cess, and af­ter an­other dose of chemo­ther­apy Louisa went into re­mis­sion and was able to leave hos­pi­tal in time for her first Christ­mas.

Nurse Dav­ina and hus­band Dar­ren, a po­lice­man, were sup­ported dur­ing Louisa’s bat­tle by Chil­dren with Leukaemia, and they have since raised money for the char­ity, in­clud­ing run­ning a marathon for it.

“They’ve re­ally sup­ported us, kept us in­formed about leukaemia re­search and so on, and fundrais­ing for them is the least we can do,” in­sists Dav­ina.

Leukaemia is the UK’s most com­mon child­hood can­cer, ac­count­ing for around a third of all cases.

It has many dif­fer­ent symp­toms, which can of­ten be non­spe­cific and vague, and range from lethargy, fail­ure to thrive and ir­ri­tabil­ity, to re­cur­rent fevers, ab­dom­i­nal, mus­cu­lar or bony pain, swollen lymph nodes, easy bruis­ing, and re­peated com­mon child­hood in­fec­tions.

Sur­vival rates from the dis­ease have in­creased dra­mat­i­cally be­cause of vast im­prove­ments in treat­ment – 50 years ago child- hood leukaemia was nearly al­ways fa­tal, but to­day at least four out of five chil­dren di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease sur­vive.

How­ever, around 50 chil­dren a year die from leukaemia, some­times af­ter en­dur­ing years of gru­elling treat­ment.

Chil­dren with Leukaemia has raised more than £100 mil­lion since it was formed in 1988, help­ing to fund re­search into the cause of leukaemia, its treat­ment and pre­ven­tion.

Now, chefs like Ken Hom, Antony Wor­rall Thomp­son and An­to­nio Car­luc­cio are rais­ing money to help fight the dis­ease and help chil­dren like Louisa by do­nat­ing a va­ri­ety of food-fo­cused ex­pe­ri­ences, in­clud­ing cook­ing lessons and meals with them, for an on­line raf­fle.

Pro­ceeds from the £10-a-ticket Chefs Unite raf­fle will go to the char­ity Chil­dren with Leukaemia to help young vic­tims of the dis­ease and their fam­i­lies, both through fund­ing re­search and pro­vid­ing valu­able sup­port for par­ents.

Ital­ian TV chef Car­luc­cio says he got in­volved with Chefs Unite af­ter hear­ing how much suf­fer­ing chil­dren with leukaemia go through, and re­al­is­ing his culi­nary skills could be used to help them.

He says: “The sto­ries I’ve heard of chil­dren fight­ing leukaemia have moved me be­cause they show im­mense strength and courage.”

Caro­line Blakely, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Chil­dren with Leukaemia, says the char­ity is “de­lighted” that so many em­i­nent chefs are sup­port­ing its lat­est fundrais­ing ven­ture.

“Cook­ery pro­grammes and celebrity chefs are re­ally pop­u­lar these days, so it seemed the per­fect time to launch a new type of fundrais­ing ini­tia­tive,” she ex­plains.

Prizes for the Chefs Unite raf­fle, which is open un­til July 7, in­clude a five course meal for four at Ray­mond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, a morn­ing with He­ston Blu­men­thal in The Fat Duck Ex­per­i­men­tal Kitchen, a cook­ing les­son with An­to­nio Car­luc­cio in his own kitchen and a ban­quet for four in Ken Hom’s Paris apart­ment.

Tick­ets for the Chefs Unite raf­fle can be bought by vis­it­ing www.chef­sunite.co.uk

A fam­ily photo of Louisa But­tery aged four months, who was di­ag­nosed with Leukaemia when she was just three weeks old, main pic­ture. Left, Louisa, now six, sit­ting on her gar­den swing with her fam­ily at her Sur­rey home. The But­tery fam­ily are Dar­ren and Dav­ina But­tery, with their other chil­dren Ed­die aged 8, and Char­lotte aged 10.

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