Emily's Gift launches to help families deal with childhood cancer diagnosis
By Laura Enfield | 13th March 2023
A Gloucestershire father has spoken of the heart-wrenching moment his son asked if he was going to die while undergoing cancer treatment.
"The hardest question is 'Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Am I going to die?'
"Horrific questions you would never expect a child to ask you, " said Toby Kellie.
"How do I answer that and explain to him something I don't understand myself?"
Mr Kellie was speaking on Friday at the launch of Emily's Gift, a campaign to raise £500,000 in one year to support children undergoing treatment at the paediatric oncology unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and their families. It will fund a psychologist to help them through their darkest hours.
His eight-year-old son Kai is undergoing treatment for leukaemia at the unit and he said having the extra support would make a massive difference.
"Parenting is hard and then you get this put on you and you don't have any time to prepare. Day of diagnosis you are straight in it with no lead up.
"We were straight down to Bristol for a month of intensive chemo and you are just so wrapped up in it you have no time to consider yourself.
"You are trying to support your child and so much trauma is bottled up as a parent and still probably to this day I have so much underneath I haven't dealt with.
"We're trying to teach our eight year old how to deal with it and we haven't got a clue."
The campaing has been set up by Julie Kent MBE who has been a tireless charity fundraiser since her three-year-old daughter Emily died from cancer. It was launched on March 10 at the Music Works in Gloucester, on what would have been Emily's 31st birthday
Julie said she has been "overwhelmed" by the support so far.
The event was attended by more than 100 guests and fundraising has almost reached £200,000. The final figure will be ring-fenced to ensure the psychologist role is protected for up to 10 years.
There are currently more than 30 children receiving cancer treatment in the Gloucester unit set up in Emily's memory.
Dr Christina Parfitt, paediatric oncologist, said: "It's incredibly challenging for them. Parents and families have struggled and it's affecting their mental health.
"Without that support, coping strategies aren't able to be put in place. We just don't have the time and training to spend with them.
"We are there for medical treatment and emotional support but a psychologist has specialist training and we need that."
Individuals, businesses and organisations are being encouraged to join the challenge and raise £2,000 over the next 12 months for the appeal.
For more information visit www.emilysgift.co.uk
Or to donate visit www.justgiving.com/page/emilysgift
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