Imagine one day waking up and learning your life was never going to be the same again. This is exactly what the diagnosis of a brain tumour can do. Brain tumours are the UK’s biggest cancer killer in children and young adults, yet only 2% of funding from cancer research charities goes towards research in this area. Shocking right?….

Within the past 6 months my heart has been touched by not just one story of a child who was diagnosed with a brain tumour, but three; three beautiful little children, all from Preston, Lancashire, whose families have been faced with such an emotional, heart-wrenching time. When they say brain tumours are rare, I’m not so convinced. So this is why I decided to do a charity event on Saturday June 1st here at The Foot Room, Longridge, Preston, in aid of The Katy Holmes Trust.

Paula, Katy’s mum, is one of life’s angels. I met Paula at my son’s school and immediately thought she was ‘just lovely’. We bonded over our Rab jackets and our daring, crazy moments of going from blonde to brown (I must say she has pulled it off much better that me), however just one minute of one morning massively increased the level of my admiration for her. Looking like a film star (I actually thought, we had a Hollywood actress in reception!), in the book printed for inspirational women of the UK, I was shown a photo, which was accompanied by Paula’s story…I took a second look and the confusion on my face must have been apparent, to which another teacher said that Katy Holmes’ mum was Paula. I got a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye and I had to apologise as I couldn’t read the story any further (not in company anyway). I made my excuses and left the classroom. Katy’s story had touched me 8 years ago and here I was crying in my car, wondering how Paula coped with everything she had been through, such a positive, wonderful, caring woman, who now dedicates her precious time to working in nursery and reception. She is oozing with love and care for all the little boys and girls who are lucky enough to have her guiding them through school on a daily basis. One of my boys in particular wouldn’t be the brave boy he’s becoming without her by his side.

I knew I had to do something to help, so I e-mailed Paula and expressed how sorry I was and apologised for having had to leave before reading her story, as I didn’t think it appropriate for her or the children to see me a crying mess (I’m a sensitive soul) but since getting home I had researched and read everything. So she pointed me in the direction of Challenge 18, a celebration of Katy’s 18th birthday.

As I am sure you have already seen all the information about our event on our Facebook/Instagram page, I didn’t want to use this blog as a complete promotion for that. I thought instead I would ask Paula to write a little something, which may just raise the awareness of how important it is to know that brain tumours exist and to realise that there is a charity out there, desperately trying to make a difference and hopefully contribute to helping to find a cure, so that no more children or young adults have to lose their lives to this cruel cancer…

Paula with her beautiful daughters Kate and Charley

From Paula’s Heart…

“Katy Holmes was our beautiful 10 year old daughter. She was so innocent and kind, never had a bad word for anyone. In September 2011, Katy had just started Year 6 in Primary School and I noticed that she had stopped smiling. This is when I discovered the true power behind a mother’s instinct – I just knew that something was wrong. Fortunately our doctor took my instinct very seriously and very unusually sent her straight up to the hospital where she had a CT scan which came back clear. Katy still wasn’t right though. I continued to watch over her and noticed she had become moody and very tired. After 2 weeks she went on a school trip. One of the teachers showed me a photo of Katy which highlighted a squint that had appeared. From the school gates I drove her straight up to A&E and refused to move until someone took this more seriously. My instinct was screaming at me now but everyone around me thought I was being over protective. They kept her in over the weekend for observation and she quickly deteriorated. Monday morning on the 10th October 2011, after me shouting a lot, Katy had an MRI. An hour later we had the results. Katy had a rare, inoperable brain tumour on her brain stem and only 6-9 months left to live. Just what do you do with that information other than scream.

We launched a worldwide media campaign that saw us in every newspaper, on news channels and in magazines across the world. I was 8 months pregnant and already had an 8 year old. Despite our very best efforts and the efforts of the medical professionals and the public who all rallied around us, Katy died 3 months later at Derian House Hospice with Dave and I lying beside her holding her hands. Her Disney CD had played continuously on repeat. That would have been the last thing she heard.

It was then we discovered the awful truth about brain tumours. In our quest to find out why Katy could not be saved we learned that brain tumours are in fact the BIGGEST CANCER KILLER of children and adults under 40 in the UK. Furthermore, research into the causes and cures is woefully underfunded with less than 2% of the national cancer research spending being directed into this area. We heard enough.

We set up The Katy Holmes Trust to fund paediatric brain tumour research and to raise awareness of this huge problem. Within the first 4 years we were invited to Downing Street, met with the world’s leading researchers in the brain tumour field, received recognition and private donations from HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, met with the Health and Education Departments at Whitehall and appeared in continuous media campaigns across the country. We gathered a fantastic team of volunteers and together we learned to fundraise, do accounting, front media campaigns, organise events, do public speeches and so very much more. We also had a family had to raise. I became a Pride of Britain Finalist and won the EVA Inspirational Women of the Year Award in 2014. In 2019 I appeared in a book of 100 Inspirational Women’s Stories and I am a finalist for the Inspire Awards SHEro Award.

To date the Katy Holmes Trust has invested over £1.1M towards paediatric brain tumour research but the cure is still out there. We continue to do what we can with the help of the amazing public who have never left our sides. This is a worldwide problem that we all can help solve if we continue to work together. We don’t do this to help us, it is too late for us. We do this so that you never have to feel our pain. We are incredibly grateful to have you on board.”

Heartbreaking… I thank Paula for this absolutely heartfelt, beautiful piece of writing. I hope that for anyone reading it, it may just touch a little part of your soul and lead you to look into learning more about, and raising the awareness of, The Katy Holmes Trust. I believe the cure is out there, it’s just take the likes of you and me to help in any way we can. If everyone pulls together we can create a storm!

Thanks for reading

Sarah xxx

Charity Event @ The Foot Room, Longridge, Preston on June 1st 2019 Pre-booked treatments are available that day for a minimum donation of £18 and there is a raffle with some amazing prizes, including a week’s self-catering holiday in Scotland and cake sale that day also.

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