The Chair of Somerset County Council, Councillor Nigel Taylor, has donated £1,000 to a charity after hearing about the child of a Council employee’s fight against cancer.
The donation, issued from the Chairman’s Charitable Fund, was made to Musgrove Leukaemic Group, to benefit local children who are undergoing treatment for the disease.
In an unrelated meeting with Communications Officer Michael Wallis the conversation went, by chance, to talking about cancer – where Nigel heard the heart warming story of how Michael’s daughter was diagnosed and then went on to beat cancer when she was just eighteen months old.
Michael’s daughter, Emilia-Mae, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2012 – a cancer that she was seventeen times more likely to develop than most children as she was born with Down Syndrome.
Following her diagnosis, Emilia-Mae was isolated in hospital for a gruelling seven months being treated with a combination of high dosage chemotherapy drugs. She didn’t initially respond to the medication. What was initially supposed to be three months treatment grew and grew, but gradually the number of cancerous cells in her body began to fall and she went into remission.
Emilia-Mae doesn’t remember her time in hospital, it’s a blessing her parents hold dear – but for them the worry over the threat of a relapse is always with them.
It has affected the family in other ways too – a compromised immune system because she has Down Syndrome and has had chemotherapy treatment, combined with having a hole in the heart and a leaking aortic valve means that she has just returned to school after a year of isolation – shielding from Coronavirus. In the words of her GP “If she were to contract the virus it would be catastrophic for her.”
Cllr Nigel Taylor, Chair of Somerset County Council said: “Hearing Emilia-Mae’s story was so inspiring for me. The conversation came on a day when I was a little down on life and what was happening in the world.
“To hear about such bravery at such a young age really lifted my spirits and gave me hope that bad situations really can work out alright. I hope by sharing her story she will become an inspiration to us all.
“We have all had a tough year and we all have stories to tell about the difficulties we have gone through but I can’t begin to imagine how tough it must be at this for a time child fighting cancer or their family. I hope in some way that the money I have donated can make a difference in their lives.”
Dr Linda Whiteford, consultant paediatrician and lead for paediatric oncology at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“It’s so heartening to hear about Emilia-Mae’s story, and we are pleased that she is in recovery following a difficult time for her and her parents.
“We are also very thankful for the kind donation to the Musgrove Leukaemic Group, which does fantastic work that benefits leukaemia and lymphoma patients and their families in Somerset.
“It has been a difficult 15 months for everyone, but we want to remind people that we are still here to care for you, and we’ve made changes to our services to keep you safe if you need to come in for an appointment or treatment.
“It’s so important that you contact your GP if you feel you or a loved one has symptoms of cancer.”
If you would like to donate to the Musgrove Leukaemic Group you can do so here: http://www.mlgs.org.uk/