‘It turned my life up­side down. . .’

Fam­ily thanks com­mu­nity for sup­port af­ter dad-of-seven’s can­cer di­ag­no­sis

The Scarborough News - - FRONT PAGE - by Martina Moscariello martina.moscariello@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @m__­moscariello

A fam­ily whose lives have been “turned up­side down” fol­low­ing the can­cer di­ag­no­sis of their dad are thank­ing the com­mu­nity for their “over­whelm­ing” sup­port. Damian Butcher, of Ash Road, Fi­ley, suf­fers from a type of rare blood can­cer and has had to leave his job and his seven chil­dren to un­dergo chemo­ther­apy at Cas­tle Hill Hos­pi­tal, in Hull.

The 47-year-old, who be­came ill only days af­ter re­turn­ing home from a cy­cling hol­i­day in Spain, said: “On the 7th of July I was on an or­gan­ised bike ride from Oliver’s Mount and five miles into that ride I fell very ill and ended up in hos­pi­tal. When the re­sults of the biopsy came out a week later I was di­ag­nosed with Myelodys­plas­tic syn­drome, a very ag­gres­sive type of leukemia, and with­out treat­ment I was told I only had months to live. You can live with cer­tain types of can­cer but not with this one.

“It was dev­as­tat­ing. It turned my life up­side down and it’s not just me; my fam­ily, my friends, we all go through the same pain.” Fol­low­ing the di­ag­no­sis, Damian has been re­ceiv­ing treat­ment, and the youngest six of his seven chil­dren – the seven are aged 27, 22, 21, 13, 10, nine and four – have been stay­ing with his mum Hazel Wooldridge at her Fi­ley home. “My kids

are ev­ery­thing I hang on to, they’re sim­ply ev­ery­thing I cling on to. I Face­time with them ev­ery day and they look re­ally happy. I know they’re well looked af­ter but I can’t say that I’m not wor­ried, of course I am.”

With Damian and his wife Lor­raine cur­rently un­able to work, there is lit­tle fi­nan­cial help com­ing in and the fam­ily have set up a JustGiv­ing page to reach out for sup­port.

Thanks to the gen­eros­ity of friends and rel­a­tives, not only has their £3,000 tar­get al­ready been met but the fam­ily have also re­ceived a spe­cial sur­prise.

Hazel said: “Last week two ladies from Proud­foots where Damian used to work came here to bring us a big food par­cel.

“It was like a Christ­mas ham­per and there was any­thing and ev­ery­thing you could think of. It was over­whelm­ing and so thought­ful.

“It’s a dif­fi­cult time for us we have no money com­ing in but we still have mouths to feed and bills to pay.

“They have been won­der­ful at Proud­foots, I think they de­serve recog­ni­tion but I want to stress that I’m grate­ful for ev­ery do­na­tion we have re­ceived, no mat­ter how big or how small. It’s re­ally go­ing to be a big help.”

The food and house­hold items have been col­lected by Cheryl Har­ris and Wendy Sel­lars who work at the Proud­foots store on Man­ham Hill, East­field, where Damian used to work as a cleaner.

The staff have used the money they usu­ally put in the lot­tery to make a £500 do­na­tion to Damian’s JustGiv­ing page and start a shop­ping trol­ley col­lec­tion.

Cheryl said: “Damian is a very well-thought-of mem­ber of the team. He has bright­ened ev­ery morn­ing at work for us with his cheeky ban­ter and fan­tas­tic sense of hu­mour and he gets our day off to a great start.

“When he was di­ag­nosed with MSD it was a ter­ri­ble shock to us all. As his friends we wanted to help the fam­ily as not only has Damian got a long bat­tle in front of him, his fam­ily would also need sup­port.”

Talk­ing about his friends’ ges­ture, Damian said: “See­be­cause ing all the shop­ping that they brought was heart­break­ing, you can’t ex­plain that type of kind­ness. I’m re­ally grate­ful.”

Although there is no guar­an­teed cure for Damian’s dis­ease, the fa­ther-of-seven is now wait­ing to re­ceive a bone mar­row trans­plant.

Damian Butcher (also in­set) with four of his chil­dren

Gen­er­ous ... Wendy Sel­lars, left, and Cheryl Har­ris of Proud­foots with grandma Hazel Wooldridge, right, and some of Damian’s chil­dren.

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