THIS September – Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – a schoolgirl from Amlwch who survived a rare form of cancer is urging people across Wales to clear out their wardrobes to help save lives like hers.
Maisy Fitzmaurice, 11 was diagnosed with germ cell cancer, back in April 2019, just weeks after her 10th birthday. Now thanks to lifesaving treatment she is cancer free and looking forward to starting her first year of senior school at Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones.
The kind-hearted schoolgirl who enjoys shopping, football and tik tok now wants to help other children going through cancer by supporting TK Maxx’s Give Up Clothes For Good campaign, in support of Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People.
The campaign urges people to donate any pre-loved quality clothing, accessories and homeware they no longer need to their nearest TK Maxx store. For many, like Maisy and her family, the extra time spent at home during the COVID-19 outbreak has provided an opportunity to focus on de-cluttering – which can now be put to good use. When sold in Cancer Research UK shops, each bag of items donated could raise up to £25 to help fund dedicated research into children’s and young people’s cancers.
Maisy is one of 85 youngsters in Wales who are diagnosed with cancer every year*. Her family know first-hand how important research is in helping to save more lives.
Maisy’s cancer was spotted by her parents who noticed swelling in her tummy, by the time she was diagnosed at Alderhey Children’s hospital, the aggressive form of cancer which originated in her ovaries, had spread to her liver and lungs. She had to have surgery to remove a 7lb tumour as well as an intensive course of chemotherapy treatment.
The family now cherish every new milestone and this September is just another new part of her life to celebrate. Maisy’s dad Tony Fitzmaurice said, “It’s a significant time for any parent, but for us it means so much, to watch her go to school again after such a long time at home and despite everything that she has been through, it’s really special.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the impact of Maisy’s chemotherapy treatment, which left her more vulnerable to the virus, the family have had to isolate at home since March. Tony said “Maisy can’t wait to go to school to see her friends again”
Thankfully last September Maisy rang the end of treatment bell at Alderhey Children’s hospital, which meant so much to mum Emma, dad Tony and brother Mylo, aged 13.
Tony said “We felt so proud of Maisy when she rang the bell, it was a real magical moment. Her brother Mylo was also amazing, he was always by her side, holding her hand when she got down and a bit scared”
“It was their positivity and strength that carried the family through it all”
Maisy is in remission and has tests every four months at Alderhey Children’s Hospital. She now wants to help other young children affected by cancer. Tony said “it’s just in her nature to help others, she’s so kind and thoughtful, last Christmas she collected 137 presents and took them to children at Alhderhey hospital”
Footballer Jamie Carragher even sent the young football fan a thank you video message.
Tony added “She will be doing the same every year. She is also thinking about somehow writing a mini book aimed at children her age who are going through or are about to go through it all to try and help them, but we don’t know where to start”
The youngster’s bravery has been recognised by many other famous faces from the world of football including players from her favourite club, the Liverpool ladies’ team who came to visit her in hospital and invited her to Anfield to have a picture with the Champions League trophy, just two days after Liverpool had won it.
Wales legends Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs also remarked on her bravery when she met them after the Women’s Wales final in Newport last year where she appeared as the team’s mascot.
Reflecting on her treatment and how far she has come Tony said “I can’t describe Maisy, as there aren’t enough good words to say about her. Every day she amazes me and looking at her now you wouldn’t know what she had to fight and how hard it was for her. She never mentions it, she just carries on as everything is normal. She is my hero”
He added “It’s thanks to research that Maisy is here today. That’s why raising money for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People is so important – especially as the coronavirus pandemic has hit charities so hard”
“Maisy and I will be having a good clear out at home and finding clothes and items to donate to our local TK Maxx store. I hope everyone in Wales will get behind this vitally important campaign and turn something they no longer need into funds for such a fantastic cause.”
More children are surviving cancer than ever before, thanks in large part to the work of Cancer Research UK. But, cancer still claims the lives of around 510 under 25s in the UK every year.**
Cassandra Miles, Wales spokesperson for Cancer Research UK for Children & Young People, said: “We’re grateful to Maisy and her family for their support during these unprecedented times. The truth is COVID-19 has slowed us down, but we will never stop.
“Cancer in children and young people is different to cancer in adults – from the types of cancer, to the impact of treatment and the long-term side effects survivors often experience. That’s why it needs different, dedicated research which campaigns like Give Up Clothes for Good help to fund.
“We want to help more children and young people survive cancer with a good quality of life. So, we hope as many people as possible will help to get our life-saving research back on track by donating any quality clothes or goods at their local TK Maxx store.”
TK Maxx is the biggest corporate supporter of Cancer Research UK’s work into children’s and young people’s cancers. Since 2004, the retailer has raised more than £37m to help improve survival.
Jo Murphy, Assistant Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at TK Maxx, said:
“We’re incredibly grateful to our associates and customers in Wales who have helped us to raise millions for research into children’s and young people’s cancers.
“We’re making every effort to ensure that people can donate safely, so we can keep transforming their pre-loved items into vital funds. We hope the local community will show their support, because their donations really could help to save lives.”
Give Up Clothes for Good is one of the UK’s longest running clothes collection campaigns. It also provides an environmental benefit through the re-use and recycling of goods.
People can donate at any TK Maxx store, all year round and supporters can also help raise funds by wearing a gold ribbon badge – the awareness symbol of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month – available from TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK stores throughout September.